Earlier this week, the Government announced an increase in probate fees.
From April 2019, In England and Wales, probate fees – the charge paid for obtaining a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration for someone’s estate after they die – will now be paid on a sliding scale depending on how much the estate is worth.
Prior to the 2017 General Election, the Government had planned to change the way that probate fees were structured, moving from a flat fee to a sliding scale of up to £20,000 for estates over £2 million. These plans were later scrapped and probate fees remained the same. The news of this increase has come as a surprise to the legal community who had thought the matter had been concluded following a consultation on the issue. Of the 831 individuals who responded; 810 objected to the proposed increases. It remains disappointing that this majority wasn’t enough to persuade the Government to scrap this ‘death tax’
This time however, the fees that will be payable are lower than those previously proposed, with a maximum fee of £6,000 for estates valued at over £2 million. While this is significantly lower than the £20,000 originally proposed, it still represents a significant increase from the current £215 fee.
However, for estates worth less than £50,000, there will be no charge, which the Government has stated will lift around 25,000 estates annually out of fees altogether. Estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 will now be charged £250.
How much will the fees be?
The new increase in probate fees will depend on the value of the estate:
|Value||New Fee||Difference to current system|
|Less than £5,000||Free||No change|
|From £5,000 up to £50,000||Free||Saving of £210|
|From £50,000 up to £300,000||£250||Increase of £35|
|From £300,000 up to £500,000||£750||Increase of £535|
|From £500,000 up to £1 million||£2,500||Increase of £2,285|
|From £1 million up to £1.6 million||£4,000||Increase of £3,785|
|From £1.6 million up to £2 million||£5,000||Increase of £4,785|
|More than £2 million||£6,000||Increase of £5,785|
In a written statement, Parliamentary Under Secretary for State Lucy Frazer MP said:
“This new banded fee model represents a fair and more progressive way to pay for probate services compared to the current flat fee and reflects our commitment to protecting access to justice by ensuring we have a properly funded and resourced courts system.”
“We are also confident these fees will never be unaffordable. The cost of the fee is recoverable from the estate and executors have several options to fund it. Moreover, the Lord Chancellor retains a power to remit a fee if he considers there are exceptional circumstances.”
Find out more about the Governments plans here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/announcement-on-probate-fees
If you have any concerns about Probate or would like advice from a member of our team, we have offices in Newark, Sleaford, Lincoln, Grantham, Boston or Spalding where a member of our team would be happy to help.