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The new financial years see major changes to how much you might need to pay in fees to sort out the estate of someone who dies and what you’ll get if your wife, husband or civil partner passes away.

How probate and bereavement change in the new financial year

The new financial year sees major changes to how much you might need to pay in fees to sort out the estate of someone who dies and what you’ll get if your wife, husband or civil partner passes away.

** Update: Due to the general election, the proposed changes to probate are yet to happen **

There’s a host of changes coming in as part of the new financial year, and we’re covering a different topic each day on the Your Money Advice blog. Here’s what you need to know about changes to probate fees and bereavement payments.

Changes to bereavement benefit payments

If your wife, husband or civil partner dies, you may be entitled to bereavement payments if they paid enough National Insurance Contributions when they were alive.

The new Bereavement Support Payment (coming into effect on 6 April) will be paid at one of two rates, depending on whether you’re pregnant or have children who depend on you.

Bereaved families with children will get a lump sum payment of £3,500 (up from £2,000), but regular payments will be cut from a maximum of £113.70 a week until the youngest child leaves full-time education, to a flat rate of £350 a month for 18 months. After then, payments will stop.

It’s important to remember these claims can be back-dated three months. So if you’re claiming for a death on or before 5 April this year, you will get the old rate if you claim within the three-month deadline.

Everyone else will get a £2,500 lump sum and a £100 monthly payment for 18 months. After then payments will stop.

Changes to probate fees

In May, the flat-rate fees for probate might be replaced by a sliding scale, based on how much the estate (total value of possessions, savings and property of the person who died) is worth.

Currently, a £215 fee is applied if you apply for probate and you’ll pay £155 if a solicitor completes the process.

Under the proposed changes, there’ll be no fee to pay on estates worth less than £50,000 (which accounts for around six out of ten estates, while those worth between £50,000 and £300,000 will incur a slightly higher £300 fee. But any estate valued over £300,000 will see fees rise significantly, ranging from £1,000 to £20,000 depending on how much the estate is worth

This is on top of any inheritance tax beneficiaries might owe.

There is little you can do to avoid the new fees. However, if you have your estate valued before your death and set aside money to pay them in an easy-access savings account, this might ease some of the problems.

These changes would only apply to probate in England and Wales. The fees for winding up an estate are different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

 

 

 

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