‘I have a Will and so probate fees won’t be an issue for my estate as a Grant of Probate won’t be needed.’ Our Wills and Trusts team are frequently met with this response when talking to clients about estate planning.
Unfortunately, this assumption is not correct. Probate fees have been in the news again recently as the Government is proposing to significantly change the fee structure on a date which is yet to be confirmed; but is likely to be imminent.
The need to apply for Probate is not determined by whether you leave a Will, or not, on your death. A Will appoints your chosen executors, names your beneficiaries and provides instructions as to how your estate will be distributed. Despite leaving a Will a Grant of Probate may still be required to deal with the assets that you leave and form part of your estate when you die.
A Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration (if you do not leave a Will) are legal documents which authorise your personal representatives to deal with your estate. Whether a Grant is required on your death will be largely dependent upon the terms of your Will (if you have one) and the nature and value of the assets in your estate. Financial institutions have different rules as to whether they will require a Grant before releasing funds on death and, even if a bank is happy to release funds without a Grant, if there is a property within the estate then a Grant is likely to be required if it was owned in the deceased’s sole name or, jointly owned with a co-owner, as tenants in common.
Currently the probate application fee is £215 if made by an individual or £155 if made by a Solicitor. The proposals that are being scrutinised by Parliament will result in fees being dictated by the value of an estate. The new fee proposals are as follows:
Value of estate (before inheritance tax)
Up to £50,000 or exempt from requiring a grant of probate
£50,000 – £300,000
£300,000 – £500,000
£500,000 – £1 million
£1 million – £1.6 million
£1.6 million – £2 million
Above £2 million
Whilst a date has not been announced for the fee changes to be implemented, we understand that the change will take effect with limited warning to the public. We are therefore encouraging all of our clients, both new and existing, to review their Wills and to take advice now about how the changes might affect their estates. Our teams in North Hill, Plymstock and Plympton are available now to take your enquiries. Call our new client co-ordinators on 01752 292221 or 01752 292288 to book your free half an hour Will review.
This article was written by Emma Banner from our Wills and Trust department.