Changes in Probate Charges Present a New Issue for Executors

April 4, 2019 11:55 am

An executor is responsible for any outgoings connected with a deceased estate, including probate fees; these have for many years been set at a simple flat rate of £215 for any estate valued at over £5000. The government have now changed this arrangement and introduced a staggered fee which rises dramatically as the value of the estate increases.

Big increase in Probate Fees for Some Estates

The good news for anyone managing an estate valued at below £50,000 is there is now no fee to pay at all. For estates above £300,000 there is a big jump in the cost of probate to £750 (a 349% increase) rising to a- 2790% increase for estates valued at over £2million. Some are arguing that this is another stealth tax on top of the 40% Inheritance Tax band for higher value estates. The government have stated they plan to use the estimated increase in probate income of £145 million, to help bridge a large financial shortfall in Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service.

Value of estate (before Inheritance tax) New Fees
Up to £50,000 or exempt from requiring a grant of probate £0
£50,000 – £300,000 £250
£300,000 – £500,000 £750
£500,000 – £1 million £2,500
£1 million – £1.6 million £4,000
£1.6 million – £2 million £5,000
Above £2 million £6,000

Christina Blacklaws, President of the Law Society, quoted in the Financial Times in February, says the cost to HMCT of granting probate is the same for all estates, regardless of value, and  it is unfair to ask bereaved families to subsidise other unconnected areas of HMCT, particularly when they have no choice other than to use the probate service.

Extra Caution Needed When Valuing an Estate

Whatever the reasoning behind the revised probate fee arrangement it presents a new headache for executors – and an additional pressure to ensure that the value of the estate is properly calculated at the outset. If the value is mistakenly underestimated executors can personally face penalties not just from HMRC but also from the probate service.  While a solicitor is protected by professional indemnity insurance if they make a mistake, few lay executors consider indemnity insurance, but executors insurance can offer valuable protection against a variety of possible claims.