The Government have confirmed that they intend to introduce changes to probate fees, intended to reduce running costs for courts and tribunals.

Gayle Mellard, a Wills and Probate Solicitor based at our Morley office, assesses the new measures and their potential impact.

Probate fees are chargeable when an application is made to deal with a deceased person’s property and finances. At the moment, a flat fee of applies (£155 if using a solicitor and £215 for individual applications).

Under the changes this will be replaced by tiered fees, which will operate as follows:-

  • £300 for estates worth more than £50,000 and up to £300,000;
  • £1,000 for estates worth more than £300,000 and up to £500,000;
  • £4,000 for estates worth more than £500,000 and up to £1m;
  • £8,000 for estates worth more than £1m and up to £1.6m;
  • £12,000 for estates worth £1.6m and up to £2m;
  • £20,000 for estates worth more than £2m.

Estates worth less than £50,000 will not be liable to pay a fee (an increase to the current limit, which is £5,000)

The Guardian reports that many families could be affected due to the increase in property prices in recent times. They also point out that the work carried out by the Probate Registry is the same- regardless of the estate’s size.

This raises the argument that the increase is entirely disproportionate and is effectively taxing the estate twice (these fees are before Inheritance Tax). Those dealing with estates will often pay the probate fee themselves, being reimbursed from estate monies at a later date- but they now face having to fund a higher cost and wait for this to make its way back to them.

The Government, on the other hand, are quite certain that 84% of estates will pay no more than the £300 fee or no fee at all, describing the proposals as ‘fair and progressive.’

This is certainly a controversial change but one which is set to go ahead. If you have any queries relating to fees or indeed any aspect of probate, please contact us today.