Bereaved families in England and Wales could face large rises in probate court fees, with the biggest estates attracting a court fee of £20,000, under new government proposals.
Currently the probate court fee on an estate is fixed at either £155 (for those applying for probate through a solicitor) or £215 (for individual applications). At present, a probate court fee is payable on any estate valued at £5,000 or more. Under the proposals this threshold would rise to £50,000. While this means that 57 per cent of estates would not attract a probate court fee, those that do would be subject to a much higher level of government levy than they are now.
The proposed court charges, which rise progressively according to an estate’s value, are:
- Less than £50,000 – no fee
- £50,000.01 to £300,000 – £300
- £300,000.01 to £500,000 – £1,000
- £500,000.01 to £1,000,000 – £4,000
- £1,000,000.01 to £1,600,000 – £8,000
- £1,600,000.01 to £2,000,000 – £12,000
- Over £2,000,000 – £20,000
It is likely that the estates of married couples that are subject to a probate court fee would incur a fee twice, that is, upon the death of each spouse. This would make the court fees for estates at the top end of the fee scale as high as £40,000.
The government’s consultation about the proposals closes on 1 April 2016.
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