Government launches consultation on proposals to reform probate fees

Probate fees are set to be reformed and if passed will see the wealthiest estates being charged up to the maximum of up to £20,000.

Currently all estates worth more than £5,000 are charged a fee of £155 if made by a solicitor and £215 if paid by an individual (“personal applications”).

Under the new proposals, the current threshold of £5,000 will be raised to £50,000 lifting around 57% of estates in England and Wales out of the need to pay a probate fee altogether.

The consultation period runs from 18 Feb 2016 to 1 Apr 2016.

The new fees

The new fees aim to be fairer and proportionate to the value of the estate compared with charging a fixed fee for all applications for a grant of probate applications.

The new banding fees proposed are as follows:

  • £0 for estates worth up to £50,000 or exempt from requiring a grant of probate
  • £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

The new reforms also will see a more streamlined process for probate applications, moving from a paper-based to an online system.

You can find full details of the proposed changes and the consultation survey here.

And the response paper will be available online here.

What this means for you

Although this is good news for smaller estates below £50,000, most estates fall in the £50,000 to £300,000 bracket and these will see a doubling of the probate fees.

With increasing property values we now deal with more and more larger estates and the problem is potentially more serious.

This is because the family of the deceased may have to pay out the fees, which run into thousands of pounds, before they can close any bank accounts to be reimbursed.

Need advice? We can help you

Please call Stephen Walker on 01482 324252.

Or email sw@gosschalks.co.uk

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