From 16 February 2019 the price of death certificates have increased from £4 to £11 for each certificate. Sometimes several certificates are required depending on which organisations, authorities or institutions require a copy of the death certificate.
Therefore even when an estate is fairly straight forward the executors may require five to ten certificates. The cost is mandatory and is effective across England and Wales.
New fee structure
The probate fee structure is changing. Fees charged for probate (allowing legal control over a deceased’s estate) are currently fixed at £215 or £155 for executors who use a solicitor. However, the Government have announced that from April 2019 the charges will be linked to the value of the estate as follows:
- Estates valued at less than £50,000 will be exempt;
- Estates valued between £50,000 to £300,000 will pay £250;
- Estates valued between £500,000 and £1m will pay £2,500;
- Estates valued between £1m and £1.6m will pay £4,000;
- Estates valued between £1.6m and £2m will pay £5,000; and
- Estate valued over £2m will pay £6,000.
Funding higher costs
The changes have been controversial as the view by some is that the Probate Office has to do the same work irrespective of the value of the estate.
Funding these higher costs may prove a challenge for executors as the probate fees have to be paid up front before reclaiming it from the estate once probate has been granted and, depending on the assets within the estate, some executors may have to borrow money in order to pay the probate fees.
However, the fees are lower than those which were proposed by the Government in 2017 when the probate fees proposed were to rise as high as £20,000. Those proposals were shelved. The Ministry of Justice insisted that the fee was not a tax and is intended to meet a shortfall in the cost of the court’s service.
At Muckle LLP we provide commercial advice to people in business on wills, trusts and inheritance issues. We will work with your existing professional advisers in accountancy, tax and financial services so that you receive the best all round advice.