Bereaved families advised to apply for probate before fee rise

Families dealing with bereavement are being advised to apply for probate before the fee rises.

The fee changes were announced back in 2016 by the government and will see the minimum probate fees rise.

When administering someone’s estate after their death, the minimum fee for estates under £500,000 is set to rise from £215 to £250.

The fee for estates valued at over £1 million will be £4,000, while the fee for estates over £2 million is set to rise to £6,000. This is in addition to inheritance tax (IHT).

The rise was due to take effect on 1 April 2019 but has been delayed indefinitely because of ongoing parliamentary discussions on Brexit.

The rise could affect beneficiaries who don’t have access to large sums of cash. Particularly for properties in the top tier, those who inherit the estate may not have the £6,000 required for the probate fee.

A problem arises because the beneficiaries are required to pay the fee to access the estate, even if there is a sum of money in a building society or bank account, finding the money to access the account can be difficult.

Families with estates are being advised to begin the process now to avoid paying the new, increased fees.

The government has been criticised for treating probate as though it is a fee when many believe it is a tax.

One potential solution is for the estate holder to make funds accessible outside of the parameters of probate in the form of life insurance or trust.