Probate fees could rise 920% for richest estates

Probate fees are set to be reformed with the wealthiest estates seeing the maximum they could pay rise 920%, up to £20,000.

Currently all estates worth more than £5,000 pay a flat rate of £215, however Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Justice Shailesh Vara MP believes the new proposals are far more progressive.

Aside from being more progressive, Shailesh Vara believes the proposals will gain the state £250 million each year. He also states that the fee would never exceed 1% of the value of the estate.

Under the new proposals, the current threshold of £5,000 will be raised to £50,000. The fees paid will be banded depending on the value of the estate 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 £1 million.
  • £8,000 for estates worth more than £1 million and up to £1.6 million.
  • £12,000 for estates worth more than £1.6 million and up to £2 million.
  • £20,000 for estates worth more than £2 million

In a letter to Robert Neill, Chair of the Justice Select Committee, the Under-Secretary wrote: “The courts and tribunals service cost £1.8 billion in 2014/15, but only £700 million was received in income. This leaves a net cost to the taxpayer of around £1.1 billion in one year alone.

“Our consultation on probate applications sets out reforms designed to increase income for a more sustainable courts and tribunals service and to introduce a more progressive fees regime. Probate applications are currently charged a fee of £155 if made by a solicitor and £215 if paid by an individual (“personal applications”). These fees apply to estates worth £5,000 or more. We propose raising this threshold from £5,000 to £50,000, lifting 30,000 estates out of the need to pay a probate fee altogether.

“The proportion of estates paying no fee would rise to 57%. Above that threshold, we propose that the probate fee increases in line with the value of the estate. Estates worth over £50,000 but below £300,000 would see their fee rise to £300, a modest increase of £85 on the current maximum fee of £215. 84% of estates would pay £300 or nothing and 94% of estates would pay £1000 or less. The maximum fee of £20,000 would only be paid by the very wealthiest estates, worth more than £2 million. The fee would never exceed 1% of the value of the estate and in many cases it would be considerably less.

“We also want to see a simpler, more streamlined process for probate applications, moving from a paper-based to an online system. This will make the Probate Service much easier to navigate so the experience of the bereaved is as simple and hassle-free as possible, reducing worry for executors at what is often a very difficult and distressing time, and enabling most applications to be completed online and, we hope, without expensive professional advice.”

Josh Morris

Josh is the Journalist for the Today's Group and writes many of the articles for Today's Conveyancer. He graduated with a degree in Physics from Cardiff University in 2009 before training as a journalist.
He has previously written for The Times, The Mirror and The Daily Express.

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