Probate refers to the administering of a deceased person’s property without an existing will or guidelines.
The court is charged with the mandate to appoint an executor or an administrator to be in charge of the collection of any unclaimed assets of the deceased, paying liabilities and debts, and also distributing assets to beneficiaries determined by the executor or named in the will (if there was a will).
If there is a will, the estate executor will apply for ‘Grant of Probate’. The Grant of Probate refers to a legally binding agreement to prove that they have powers to manage the estate. In the absence of a will, a close relative to the deceased always applies for a ‘Grant of Letter of Administration’ which is also referred to as ‘a probate’. The fees, therefore, refers to the money you pay to the government so as to get approval to distribute a deceased person’s money and property.
The cost of probate fees in the UK are difficult to determine as they vary greatly depending on the estate value and the charge by the specialists enjoined in the process.
However, if you are looking at finding out the current probate costs in the UK, it is imperative to split costs into fixed costs like the application fee, and varying costs like amount charged by the specialist you involve. The specialist could either be a solicitor or a probate specialist.
Currently, there is a £215 charge as probate application fee when the application is being made by an individual. If the application is made by a solicitor or probate specialist, the charge is £155. The solicitor will charge fees between 2.5 to 4.5 per cent of the total estate worth plus VAT. Probate specialists could, however, be a cheaper alternative.
The standard VAT value charge currently in the United Kingdom is 20 per cent which is mandatory in all probate processing. Therefore, for example, if the estate you are claiming is valued at £500,000, the solicitor’s costs will be between £15,000 – £25,000. Besides this, you will pay the VAT. A VAT of 20% will up the total cost to £18,000 – £30,000.
Here is a short video from UK Care Guide that sets out more information on the costs of probate.
How are probate fees changing in 2019
However, probate costs are changing face. In 2018, the UK government announced that they would be making changes on how much you will pay as probate fees.
The government proposed to do away with most of the cost implications involved in the probate process. Although the changes have not been implemented yet, they are expected to be effected soon. Once effected, you will no longer need to pay the fixed probate fees noted above. This is the £215 charge on individual application and £155 charge on specialist application. Additionally, an estate valued at £50,000 or less will not have any probate charges. This amount to almost 25,000 estates that will not have to pay any charge. However, under the new law, if your estate is worth more, you will pay more probate fees.
In the new proposal, these charges will be applied:
• Estates that are worth £50,000 to £300,000 will incur a charge of £250, which is an increase of £25.
• Estates ranging from £300,000 to £500,000 will incur a £750 charge
• Estates ranging from £500,000 to £1 million will incur a £2,500 charge.
• Estates worth between £1 million and £1.6 million will incur £4,000
• Estates worth between £1.6 million and £2 million will incur £5,000
• Estates that are worth more than £2 million will have a charge of £6,000 which implies an increase of £5,785 from the current cost of probate.
If you look at the proposal keenly, the new fee model by the government has positive implications. The system provides a more fair and progressive way to enable people to pay for probate services. It is different from the current flat fees system. The new model reflects our positive commitment to streamlining justice access by ensuring a properly resourced judicial system. The system is favourable to those estates of a lower value as the cost of probate rises with an increase in the value of the estate. The fees are also affordable since the charges are recoverable from the assets and there are several funding options for the fees. The Lord Chancellor also has the power to remit fees if it is deemed that the circumstances are exceptional.
In conclusion, the new order presents a more progressive method when it comes to probate costs. It is now awaiting formal approval and will come into force 21 days after approval.