The Government is to introduce a new tax on people who have died.
It will start if they leave property, money and other assets totalling £50,000 or more. It will apply to ten times more estates than inheritance tax, which does not start until £325,000 at the lowest.
In some cases, inheritance tax will not start until £950,000. This new charge will apply from April for all estates in England and Wales valued at more than £50,000, which need a letter from the court to deal with the estate and distribute it to the heirs. That is called “probate” and, at the moment, there is a flat-rate charge for estates over £5,000 of £155 if a solicitor does the job and £215 if it is done personally.
From April the charge will be on a sliding scale from £250 up to £6,000 for the largest estates.
The only gainers will be around 25,000 estates valued between £5,000 and £50,000 where the new charge will be nil. The Government tried to introduce a similar tax two years ago but abandoned it after parliamentary opposition meant it could not be rushed through before the 2017 general election.
The Law Society – which represents solicitors – says if MPs do not reject these new fees it will consider a legal challenge because, “The cost to the courts for providing a grant of probate does not change whether the size of the estate is £10,000 or £1 million.”
There are no plans to change the flat-rate fees that apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Probate Fees England and Wales from April 2019
Based on net value of estate after debts but before inheritance tax is paid
Value of estate
New Fee From April 2019
Number of estates per year
Up to £5,000
£5,000 to £50,000
£50,001 to £300,000
£300,001 to £500,000
£500,001 to £1m
£1m to £1.6m
£1.6m to £2m