Probate Fees

PROBATE FEES

Probate fees in England and Wales are changing from May, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed.

Currently a fixed fee of either £155 (if applied for by a solicitor) or £215 (if applied for by an individual) is paid to the courts in order to grant probate, so executors can distribute the proceeds of someone’s will. The fee is only paid if an estate is worth more than £5,000.

But from May, the fee will no longer be fixed, instead it will increase on a sliding scale depending on the value of the estate.

 

The new probate fees

Here’s how the new fees will work from May.

Value of EstateNew Fee
Up to £50,000£0
Over £50,000 up to £300,000£300
Over £300,000 up to £500,000£1,000
Over £500,000 up to £1 million£4,000
Over £1 million up to £1.6 million£8,000
Over £1.6 million up to £2 million£12,000
Over £2 million £20,000

The threshold for the fee will rise to £50,000 meaning millions of people will no longer pay anything at all – an estimated 58% of estates will not be liable for a probate charge thanks to the change. But, those estates that do have to pay a probate fee will have to hand over substantially more, from £300 for estates worth £50,000 to £300,000 and up to £20,000 for estates worth more than £2 million.

“We are introducing a fairer banded system of probate fees which will mean more than half of estates will pay nothing and 92% will pay no more than £1,000,” says a Ministry of Justice spokeswoman.
“Fees are necessary to maintain an accessible, world-leading justice system which puts the needs of victims and vulnerable people first.”

‘Stealth tax’

The new fees have been strongly criticised by financial advisors, who have gone as far as describing it as a stealth tax on the rich.
“The move from a flat rate fee structure to one which is tiered based on assets could, in theory, have been an acceptable model, but the level of fees imposed are arguably unjustified,” says Gordon Andrews, a financial planning expert at Old Mutual Wealth.

“At its crudest, one could argue that this is yet another stealth tax being levied by the government.”

[Read more: Why this inheritance tax change won’t benefit everyone]