Probate court fees set to soar for millions of people

Will, pen and bookletBereaved 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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