Probate fees rise

“Some ghastly piece of legislation was always going to be passed while everyone was distracted by Brexit. Now we know what it is: a whopping hike in probate fees that will cost grieving families £145m in its first year,” says James Coney in The Sunday Times.

The government has pushed ahead with its plans to change the way probate fees are charged. From April, the flat £215 fee (or £155 if paid through a solicitor) will be replaced with a new sliding scale.

If your estate is worth less than £50,000, you pay nothing. Between £50,000 and £300,000, the charge will go up by just £35 to £250. For estates worth £300,000-£500,000, the fee increases to £750, rising to £6,000 if your estate is valued at more than £2m.

Last week, ministers classified the controversial increase as a fee rather than a tax, meaning the changes could avoid full parliamentary scrutiny, says the Financial Times.

Yet “estates are effectively being double-taxed – once for inheritance tax of 40% above the nil-rate band, and then again through tiered probate fees,”Rachael Griffin of wealth manager Quilter told the FT. On the other hand, those with the smallest estates will at least avoid fees altogether.