The Ministry of Justice has shocked professionals by confirming that probate fees in England and Wales are set to increase dramatically in May. Currently, a flat fee of £155 is payable where a probate application is submitted by a solicitor. The new tiered system will see fees linked to the size of the estate. The new bottom rate fee has been set at £300 for estates worth £50,000 to £300,000, rising to £20,000 for those worth more than £2million.
Probate fees are often paid by executors and repaid before the estate is distributed to the beneficiaries. Historically, the cost of probate has been the same regardless of the size of the estate.
The purpose of the probate fee change is to aid the cost of running the Courts and Tribunals in England and Wales. It is estimated the new charging structure will raise an extra £250 million for the Exchequer. The Government is pushing ahead with the new fees despite majority opposition registered in a public consultation process last year. It has been suggested that the fee hike is a way of raising revenues to counter the loss to the Exchequer due to the introduction of the Residence Nil Rate Band which is set to come into force from 5 April 2017.
In May 2017, the probate application fees will be:
£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 £1m and up to £1.6 million
£12,000 for estates worth more than £1.6m and up to £2 million
£20,000 for estates worth more than £2 million
Tom Lawrence, director in the estates team at Howes Percival, comments, “Many people are feeling very aggrieved by these fee changes. It’s disappointing that the Government appears to have ignored the significant opposition put forward to its consultation last year.”
If you would like advice and assistance from our expert team in dealing with probate applications, please contact us on 01603 762103.