Inheritance tax (IHT) and how to avoid it is often in the news. Only recently much comment was made about how the late Bruce Forsyth successfully managed to arrange his affairs so as to minimize the IHT payable by his estate. However, IHT is paid by only a small minority of estates.
On the other hand, probate fees are paid by even modest estates where a grant is required to deal with an asset, most frequently a house or a bank account. It seems that with this in mind the government have decided that a hike in probate fees - currently £215 regardless of estate size - is a more lucrative way to augment the Treasury's coffers. Fees are now going to be charged in bands depending on estate size, with a maximum of £6000 charged on estates valued at over £2m.
However, there is still planning to be done in mitigation and even minor tweaks to wills or asset ownership could potentially save thousands in unnecessary fees.
The government has resurrected its 2017 plan for an enormous increase in probate application fees for higher-value estates in England and Wales.