Temporary change to probate applications as fees set to rise

The government has announced a temporary change to probate applications until a controversial new fee structure comes fully into effect.

Probate is the process by which a person’s will is administered after their death. Currently there is a flat fee of £215, or £155 if a solicitor is involved.

That is being replaced by a banded system that caps the fee at no more than 0.5% of the value of the estate, up to a maximum of £6,000. The threshold at which estates are exempt from the fee rises from £5,000 to £50,000.

The fee changes are still in the process of being introduced and this has made it necessary to introduce temporary changes.

To get probate the person dealing with the estate must first submit an Inheritance Tax account to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Probate registries won’t normally accept an application for probate until HMRC has confirmed that it has processed the Inheritance Tax account.

However, while the process for introducing the new fee structure is ongoing, probate registries will accept applications for probate before the account has been processed by HMRC. The application must include a note to say that the appropriate Inheritance Tax forms will follow shortly.

The government says the new system means that 25,000 estates will no longer have to pay a fee, and around 80% of estates will pay £750 or less.

Critics say the move will mean that even estates of only average value will have to pay thousands of pounds more and so reduce donations left to charity.

A spokesman for the Law Society said: “It is inherently unfair to place a tax upon the more wealthy estates purely and simply because they have more in their asset pool.”

Please contact us if you would like more information about making a will or applying for probate.

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