April – otherwise known as the start of a new financial year and much of this year has seen the House of Commons preoccupied with addressing endless issues that already surround Brexit, a time which will see probate fees surge sooner rather than later according to many lawyers.
With the probate court fee set to rise from a flat fee of £215 for families or £155 if applied for via a solicitor, to an astounding £6,000 for estates that exceed £2m, lawyers are already warning executors that claims may be made against them if a statutory instrument is passed in parliament. The proposed legislation will see estates subjected to a sliding scale if they are valued above £50,000.
Naturally, if you are an executor then you are probably already thinking about getting ahead of the game by applying for probate before any of the proposed changes are passed and implemented. Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as that as executors need to ensure that everything is in order to ensure that they don’t potentially open themselves up to scrutiny and potential claims from beneficiaries.
What can I do if I face the hike?
Should you find yourself in an unfavourable financial position then you may be able to speak to the deceased’s bank about realising funds to help meet the upfront costs that probate naturally acquires. If these funds prove insufficient, when addressing larger probate fees, then the executor may be able to enquire about taking out an executor loan which can then be promptly repaid following the distribution of the deceased’s estate.
Alternatively, life insurance policies may also prove beneficial if they have been ‘written in trust’ as this will legally bypass standard probate procedures, enabling an individual to gain access to funds immediately.
DIY Probate Pitfalls
As mentioned earlier, neglecting to use a professional when dealing with the probate process, which involves distributing the deceased’s estate (property, cash, possessions and savings) can prove to be risky. Whilst it is all too easy these days to carry out a search online and find a wealth of information, many individuals have still found themselves in breach of fiduciary duty simply because they have distributed the estate incorrectly.
How can Probaters help?
At Probaters we can provide a team of friendly experts who have many years of experience when it comes to dealing with the probate process. Below is a list of just a few of our services that we can offer you during your time of need.
• Help you to understand your responsibilities as an executor and explain anything that you may be unsure of.
• Clarify any legal terminology that may be within the deceased’s will.
• Confirm that any beneficiaries are paid as appropriate to ensure that the executor doesn’t accidentally become personally liable for any losses that the beneficiary may have personally faced.
• Assist with the completion of any tax returns.
• Our experts can ensure that the estate is distributed promptly and efficiently, so you can focus on the things that really matter, like your family and loved ones or sorting out arrangements for the funeral.
What does the new probate hike mean for me?
• Properties in England and Wales that are valued under £50,000 will see fees completely abolished under the new system, meaning that executors will be £215 better off on average.
• Estates between £50,000 to £300,000 will pay £250.
• Estates worth £300,000 up to £500,000 will pay £750.
• Estates worth £500,000 to £1 million will pay £2,500.
• Estates worth more than £1 million up to £1.6 million will pay £4,000.
• Estates worth more than £1.6 million up to £2 million will pay £5,000.
• Estates over £2 million will pay £6,000.
Why has this new fee been approved?
Despite being viewed by many as another stealth tax that has simply escaped scrutiny from a committee, due to being presented as part of a back door approach, or as a fee oppose to a tax rise that would usually attract attention due to a parliamentary bill having to be put before the committee, the government still claims that the new tiered structure is fairer as its progressive model will raise £145m in the next financial year for other essential services within the legal sector.
Moreover, another issue surrounding the new probate proposal is that some individuals may effectively face being taxed twice, once for inheritance tax 40% above the nil rate tax band and again as part of the increased probate fees.
Let us help you avoid the pitfalls
Our team of specialists at Probaters can guide you through the probate process for a fixed fee and with many years of experience of administering estates of all sizes, you can rest easy knowing that you are in safe hands.
We can help you obtain the grant of probate for a fixed fee of £780 plus VAT. If you have time at your disposable, which will enable you to administer the deceased’s assets yourself and are familiar with the probate service, then this may be a viable option for you. However, it is important to note that the probate registry charge will be extra.
Alternatively, if you are dealing with an estate over £300,000 or don’t feel confident about administering the estate by yourself, then our full service starts from as little as £3,750 including VAT for a typical property.
Our full administration service includes:
• Advice on the terms of the Will.
• Collating the appropriate information surrounding the relevant assets and liabilities.
• Dealing with HMRC, DWP and any relevant creditors.
• More information can be found here.
Give us a call on 0845 034 7344 today to speak to one of our probate lawyers or why not message us via our online form.
At Probaters we can offer you a stress free, professional service and full peace of mind when it comes to dealing with the finer details.