How Can I Avoid Probate Fees?
17 December 2015
When faced with administering an Estate, many people will attempt to avoid Probate fees. In England and Wales there are rules around when Probate fees apply on an Estate so it’s well worth understanding the rules before you attempt to administer an Estate.
There are some ways that you can reduce the fees you will pay for Probate.
Financial institutions have their own limits above which they will require Probate. This can be based on the amount held with them individually, or the value of the Estate. This can be as little as £15,000 or as much as £50,000. Even then, Probate may still be required. Therefore you need to be certain firstly that the amount in the account, or the value of the Estate is less than the limit set by the financial institution you are dealing with.
You could contact the bank or building society that is holding the money and ask them to explain the process and what their limits for Probate are. They could allow you to avoid Probate completely by issuing them with a small claims indemnity form. However not all financial institutions are the same so it’s best to check their process before you begin.
If you are administering an Estate worth more than the limit set by the financial institution, which most Estates that contain property are likely to be, then you can find ways of reducing the amount of Probate fees payable.
Inheritance tax planning can help. Taking specialist legal advice about Estate planning and making a Will whilst you have the capacity to do so can help, but will have little impact if you are at the point of Probate. There are some remedies that can be applied to an Estate such as increasing a charitable donation to reduce Inheritance Tax liabilities and this could be worth investigating with a specialist Probate Solicitor.
You should also ask a Probate Solicitor to review the Estate and help you decide how complicated it is. The complexity of the Estate can really affect the amount you will pay in Probate fees.
The complexity of the Estate can be measured by some Solicitors only on value, therefore a high value Estate usually results in higher Probate fees. However, even high value Estates can be straightforward from a Probate perspective so it helps to speak with a Probate Solicitor who provides a price based on value as well as complexity.
Another option to consider if the Estate is not that complicated is using a fixed fee DIY Probate kit. This a ‘pack’ that details all of the legal processes that are needed to complete Probate correctly. This can help you to keep the cost of Probate low.
Whilst paying a percentage of the total value of a deceased person’s Estate is not required by law, many high street banks and solicitors are known to have charged the deceased’s family up to around 6% of the total value of the deceased person’s Estate, in addition to their hourly solicitor fees.
At Co-op Legal Services, our Probate Solicitors do not require that you pay a percentage of the total value of the deceased person’s Estate. Our Probate Solicitors offer fixed fee Probate services, and once we have provided you with a written quote for the agreed work, that fee will not change unless the original information we are given is shown to be incorrect or circumstances change.
Co-op Legal Services is the largest provider of Probate and Estate Administration services in England and Wales, trusted to deal with over £1.3 billion in Estates annually.