Probate Fee Increase
The fee is set to rise from April 2019 (the exact date of which has not yet been confirmed), from £155 for a probate application made via a solicitor to the following scale charge:
Value of Estate
Up to £50,000
Exceeds £50,000 but does not exceed £300,000
Exceeds £300,000 but does not exceed £500,000
Exceeds £500,000 but does not exceed £1 million
Exceeds £1 million but does not exceed £1.6 million
Exceeds £1.6 million but does not exceed £2 million
Exceeds £2 million
This will be on top of any inheritance tax which is payable on the estate which, at least in part, has to be paid before an application for a grant can be submitted.
What options are available to the executors/administrators?
Banks will normally release funds for inheritance tax, funeral expenses and the probate fee before a grant is obtained. Otherwise, where the funds go over their specified threshold, they will freeze the account, releasing the funds once the grant is produced and their formalities completed.
If there is insufficient cash in the estate, the executors may wish to look at obtaining a loan. This can be from banks, themselves, beneficiaries, or one which may not be conventionally thought of, pension funds.
If you suspect your estate will have insufficient liquid assets, then another option would be to set up an insurance policy now. One benefit is that, so long as it has been set up correctly, it would be paid outside of the estate and therefore not subject to inheritance tax. Moreover, the insurance company usually pay out immediately on sight of a death certificate, meaning there is cash available soon after death without the need to wait for a grant.