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Huge rise in probate fees ‘could cost charities millions’

Posted: 12th December 2018   In: Wills, Trusts and Probate

Charities say they could lose out on millions of pounds a year because of a huge rise in probate fees announced by the government.

Probate is the process by which a person’s will is administered after their death. Currently there is a flat fee of £215, or £155 if a solicitor is involved.

That is to be replaced by a banded system that caps the fee at no more than 0.5% of the value of the estate, up to a maximum of £6,000. The threshold at which estates are exempt from the fee rises from £5,000 to £50,000.

The government says the increase in the exemption threshold means that 25,000 estates will no longer have to pay a fee, and around 80% of estates will pay £750 or less.

However, critics say the move will mean that even estates of only average value will have to pay thousands of pounds more and so reduce donations left to charity. 

Matthew Lagden, chief executive of the Institute of Legacy Management, told the Times: “The new fees would significantly reduce income for charities reliant on legacy gifts, to the tune of £10m a year, at a time when many charities are struggling to meet increasing demand for their services.”

A spokesman for the Law Society said: “It is inherently unfair to place a tax upon the more wealthy estates purely and simply because they have more in their asset pool.”

The Ministry of Justice said the increases were fair and were needed to pay for the rising costs of administering the courts system.

Please contact Lisa McBrearty or Jamiel Zaman if you would like more information about making a will or applying for probate.