Thursfields Solicitors has warned that potentially large increases in probate fees means the charity sector needs to focus on maximising its legacies.

The comments from the leading Midlands law firm come as the government changes the way probate fees are charged from this April when what was a flat fee of £215 – or £155 if paid through a solicitor – is replaced with a new sliding scale.

For estates worth less than £50,000, the fee will be zero, and for estates between £50,000 and £300,000, the charge will go up by just £35 to £250.

But for estates worth £300,000 to £500,000, the fee triples to £750, rising to a huge £6,000 if an estate is valued at more than £2 million.

Katherine Ellis, a Senior Associate Solicitor at Thursfields’ Birmingham office, who was previously a legacy manager at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Earlier this year the Government voted in favour of this increase in probate fees, despite significant concerns raised by the legal and charity sectors.

Because of the generous Wills made by many supporters, the charity sector is concerned that the higher probate fees applied could cost them in the region of £10 million annually in lost legacy income.

This would be a huge hit to charities and it will therefore be even more vital that they maximise the value of those generous legacies left to them.”

Thursfields offer expert advice and support to assist charities in maximising the legacies they receive. Katherine can be contacted on 0121 647 5419 or via kellis@thursfields.co.uk.

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