If someone dies, you’ll have to pay a fee in order to be able to sort out their financial affairs. Here, we explain what it could cost.
Probate fees explained
If someone dies in England or Wales and they leave a will, then it’s the executors of the will who apply for probate. The executor is the person who’s responsible for dealing with all the person’s finances and possessions.You have to be named in the will in order to be an executor. If there’s no will, then the next of kin act as administrators and must apply for ‘letters of administration’.
The government charges you a fee when you apply for probate or letters of administration. If you use a solicitor to act as an executor, they will charge for their time as well.
In Scotland, the process is called ‘confirmation’, not probate. Again, it’s the executors who apply for this.
Probate fees – what you’ll pay
The amount you pay when you’re applying for probate for someone depends on the value of that person’s estate when they died.
The value of their estate includes all the money, property, pensions, investments and possessions they owned when they died, minus any debts such as their mortgage or any personal loans..
Under the current system, in England and Wales, you pay a flat probate fee of £215 (or £155 if a solicitor does the probate for you) if the person died with an estate worth more than £5,000. If they died with less than £5,000, you don’t have to pay anything if you apply for probate.
The Government was planning to change these charges, so that higher value estates would pay steeper probate fees than smaller value estates, but it scrapped these plans in October 2019.
It’s worth knowing that if someone dies with very little, you may not need to get probate at all. According to Co-op Legal Services, It’s generally considered that if everything the person owned is worth less than £15,000 probate won’t be needed. However, this isn’t true in all cases because each financial institution has their own limit that determines whether or not probate is needed. This ranges from £5,000 to £50,000.
If you have a question about applying for probate you can contact the Courts and Tribunals Service Centre via its Webchat service. This is available from Monday to Thursday 8am to 5pm and on Fridays from 8am to 4pm.
Confirmation fees in Scotland and Northern Ireland
In Scotland, confirmation fees are £266 if the estate is worth less than £250,000 and £532 if it’s worth more than £250,000. There’s no fee if the estate is valued at less than £50,000. Application forms and guidance notes can be found on the HMRC website.
In Northern Ireland, probate fees comprise of a grant fee and a personal application fee, which cost £261 and £61 respectively. You only pay the personal application fee if you are applying for a grant without a solicitor and if the net value of the estate is less than £10,000 you don’t have to either of these fees. Find out more about applying for probate in Northern Ireland here.
If you are on a low income, or if you’re claiming certain benefits, you may not have to pay a fee, or you may be able to get some money off the fee, so check before you apply.
Appointing a probate specialist
In many cases you may need a probate specialist to help with dealing with your loved one’s estate, particularly if there’s an inheritance tax liability or if the estate is complicated. This may be a solicitor or accountant. For more information go to When to use a probate solicitor or specialist.
Find out more about what to do when someone dies here.
Have you recently had to apply for probate to sort out the estate of someone who’s died? How did you find the process? We’d be interested to hear from you. You can get in touch at [email protected] or post a comment below.