The recent Ministry of Justice proposals to increase the Probate Registry fees are already attracting comment and concern from industry professionals.
The progressive increase seems disproportionate and impractical. In a situation where the whole estate being passed on is contained solely or mainly in a property (for instance a property over £2m) with no other assets available the personal representative would be unable to find the £20,000 required to obtain the Grant of Probate to deal with the property and carry out their duty.
Even if an estate has assets other than the property, it is unclear whether the banks will expand their list of payments they are prepared to release before a Grant of Representation is sent to them to cover the intended Probate Registry fees, as well as to pay inheritance tax and any funeral costs. We know that a property of value of £2m or more is not that uncommon in London and surrounding area.
The proposed changes may incentivise people to pass assets into trust to avoid an application to the Probate Registry as the saving on the fees would make it worthwhile. Without careful planning however, this could lead to an inheritance tax liability at the time the trust is created.
Should the fee scale proceed, our experts can assist with estate and trust planning to ensure optimum arrangements to pass on as much of your estate as possible.