Probate fee changes a risk to charitable legacies

6 November 2018

Lucy Frazer, the justice minister, yesterday announced that the government was revising its previous proposals for reforming probate fees and would be pushing ahead with removing the existing flat rate of £215.

Instead, probate fee bands would be brought in, she said, with estates of more than £50,000 paying between £250 and £6,000, with the maximum amount reserved for estates worth more than £2m.

In response to the Government’s announcement of this new probate fee structure, the director of Remember A Charity, Rob Cope, says:

“The new probate structure will see charitable Wills costing – in some cases – thousands of pounds more than they do currently and our concern is that this could deter people from leaving a donation in their Will. After all, if estate planning comes with such a hefty price tag for wealthy individuals – many of whom leave sizable gifts to charity – they may think again.”

The latest figures from Legacy Foresight show that 10,000 legacy gifts alone are responsible for 8% of the sector’s annual voluntary income.

Cope adds: “While Government expects to generate £185 million from the increased charges by 2022-2023, it is important to remember that charitable bequests are worth almost £3 billion a year for good causes. The sector cannot afford to risk losing legacy income and we call on Government to consider the potential disproportionate impact of this decision.

“We will be urging Government to offer a reduction in probate fees for estates that include a charitable gift, helping to mitigate the impact of the fee increase and taking us a step closer to achieving our shared ambition of making the UK the first country in the world where gifts in Wills is a social norm.”