New proposals from the Ministry of Justice could result in big increases to grant of probate fees, resulting in millions of families paying more on the death of a loved one.
Those with the largest estates could face £40,000 in fees to receive a grant of probate.
Grant of probate gives you, as an executor, the right to distribute the proceeds of someone’s estate, according to the wishes expressed in their will.
Under current rules, you must pay a fee of £215 to HM Courts and Tribunals Service to apply for a grant of probate.
There is no fee to pay if the value of the estate is under £5,000.
The new proposals put forward by the Ministry of Justice would result in most estates paying higher fees for a grant of probate. It would raise an extra £250m a year in fees for the courts service.
The fee would fall to £0 for those with estates valued under £50,000.
For estates with a value between £50,000 and £300,000, the grant of probate fee would be £300.
It then jumps to £1,000 for estates valued between £300,000 and £500,000, £4,000 for estates with a value between £500,000 and £1m, and £8,000 for estates valued between £1m and £1.6m.
The proposed fee is £12,000 for estates valued over £1.6m and £20,000 for the most valuable estates, those with a value over £2m.
For married couples with the highest value estates, this could mean grant of probate fees totalling £40,000 for their families to pay.
Some commentators have already called the proposed fee changes an increase to inheritance tax through the back door.
Defending their proposals, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said:
“Court fees are never popular but they are necessary. We have got to make sure our courts and tribunals are properly funded at the same time as cutting the budget deficit,”
The government is consulting on the grant of probate fee proposals until April, at which point a decision will be made.
With these grant of probate fee increases looming, now is a good time to consider your inheritance tax planning.
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