Probate fee hike:  act sooner rather than later

Currently, anyone applying for Probate will pay a flat rate of £155 (if using a solicitor).

The impending Probate fee increase from April 2019 will mean that Estates worth between £500,000 to £1 million will pay £2,500 instead, which means an astounding rise of £2,285.  Whereas estates worth £2 million or more will pay £,6000.

The most unfair aspect for larger estates is that these fees will, in some cases, be added to a 40% Inheritance Tax charge.

The only size estates which will be better off are estates worth less than £50,000 in which case there would be no fee.

What can you do if I am an executor of someone who has recently passed away?

The short answer is:  act now

Any Probate applications submitted to the Probate Registry before the increase is applied, will be eligible to pay the current flat rate.  However, while you may think April is “ages away”, it is worth remembering that for many estates, gathering all the financial information and complying with the ‘legalities’ required to apply for Grant of Probate can take many weeks, if not months.

You should therefore obtain expert legal advice about the Probate process, which could save you time and quite literally lots of money.

Can I get money from the estate to pay for the Probate fee?

Unfortunately, in most cases executors will find themselves in a “catch – 22” situation.  This is because you will need to obtain Grant of Probate and deal with any Inheritance Tax before you are able to sell the assets or close the bank accounts.

It is sometimes possible to borrow funds from certain lenders, although this is never a cheap, or straightforward option.

Should I review my own estate planning to make it more cost and tax efficient?

If you have concerns about how the value of your estate may result in your spouse/partner paying the excessive proposed Probate fees or about how to make your estate planning tax-efficient, please contact us for expert advice.

At Solomons Solicitors, our expert Solicitors will offer technical expertise in plain English and always guide you as to the most practical answers to your legal questions. Our offices serve Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch and are ideally placed for clients in Branksome Park, Lilliput, Queens Park, Southbourne and Winton. We also offer home visits for those unable to attend our office in Westbourne.

Please contact Alex Livesey or Paul Solomons for a free no-obligation consultation on Probate matters or any related matters on 01202 802 807.

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