Proposed Increase in Probate Fees

The government has announced proposals for reforming the fees payable for an application for a grant of probate. The increase could see some estates paying as much as £20,000.  The intention is to raise an additional £250 million per year to fund the running of the courts and tribunals.

The proposed fees will remove some estates from paying any fee by increasing the threshold for estates exempt from paying fees from £5,000 to £50,000. Estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 will pay £300 whereas estates valued at over £2 million will be charged £20,000.

The current probate charges are £215 if made by an individual and £155 for applications made via a solicitor (which itself was significantly increased in April 2014 from £45).

Whilst paying a fee based on the size of the estate may appear to be fairer, the work involved at the probate registry will be the same irrespective of the value of the estate.

There is concern that such a hike would increase the pressure on vulnerable individuals to gift money during their lifetime in an attempt to mitigate the fees. There is also concern how the fees will be paid particularly if the deceased has a valuable property but limited cash assets.

For advice on drafting your will, probate or administration of estates please contact Lindsey Bohanna at lindsey.bohanna@coleyandtilley.co.uk