Government announces hike in probate fees

The government has announced a hike in probate fees. The Draft Order for the new fees, which has been laid before the Parliament, is set to take probate fees up from a standard fee of £155 (for solicitor applications) and £215 (for personal applications) to a minimum fee of £250, going up to a maximum of £6,000.

The new fees will be calculated by reference to the net value (what is left after liabilities are deducted, but before any inheritance tax is deducted) of the estate. It will be charged at 0.5% of the net estate value. However, the threshold for estates that have to pay the probate fee has been raised from £5,000 to £50,000.

The government says that 80% of estates will pay £750 or less. The table below shows the new fees schedule. The move has been criticised as a new stealth tax. The government defends itself by saying that all the money will be used to maintain and run the courts.

This move will hit some people hard. In some cases, the entire value of the estate is in the property and they may find it difficult to find the cash to apply for the grant of probate. Anyone considering taking out a grant of probate should do so as soon as possible so as not to be caught. For an estate worth just over £1 million, you will have to pay £4,000 after the new fees come into force. The start date has not yet been fixed.

New probate fees schedule:

Up to £50,000 £0
Over £50,000 up to £300,000 £250
Over £300,000 up to £500,000 £750
Over £500,000 up to £1,000,000 £2,500
Over £1,000,000 up to £1,600,000 £4,000
Over £1,600,000 up to £2,000,000 £6,000

You can download the fees schedule here. It has details of fees (pages 4-6) for other kinds of applications including searches, copies of documents.

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