Yet another death tax – changes to Probate Court fees

In February 2016 the Government announced a rather short Consultation process about proposed increases in Probate Court Fees, so the fees you pay to the Probate Registry to obtain the issue of a Grant of Probate (if there is a Will) or a Grant of Letters of Administration (if there is no Will so the deceased died intestate).  This affects such applications in England & Wales only.

The current fee is £155 for all estates where a Solicitor applies, or £210 for a personal application.  There is little extra work for the Probate Registry for a large estate as compared to a small estate. The current fees, raise about £25,000,000 which is more than sufficient to cover the complete cost of the Probate Registries.

In contrast the Consultation is on the basis of the following fees:-

  • For estates up to £50,000 – NO fee
  • For estates of £50,001 up to £300,000 – the fee suggested is £300
  • For estates of £300,001 up to £500,000 – the fee suggested is £1,000
  • For estates of £500,001 up to £1,000,000 – the fee suggested is £4,000
  • For estates of £1,000,001 up to £1,600,000 – the fee suggested is £8,000
  • For estates of £1,600,001 up to £2,000,000 – the fee suggested is £12,000
  • For estates above £2,00,001 – the fee suggested is £20,000

The aim is to raise another £250,000,000 which will go a long way to contributing towards the running costs of the Courts system in general, not just the Probate Registries.

Any comments have to be made by the 1st of April 2016 to contribute your views on this Consultation and I would urge you to do so, as I have myself.  No one in their right mind can think this is fair and reasonable, can they?  How will it be possible to raise the larger fees easily from “estate assets” when you cannot really access the deceased’s accounts without the Grant you are seeking?  It is, after all, going to add a considerable burden to many estates at a sensitive time.

I would guess that the fees will be so significant that there will be quite a number of people hell bent on trying to avoid paying these suggested fees.

I am old enough to remember when we did have a scale charge between 1981 and 1999.  The fee, then, went up in bands rising by £50 for each band.  So a £2,000,000 would still have a fee in the hundreds not the thousands.  This was replaced by the flat rate system that we have had since 1999.

Rising Court Fees are a sign of the times.  So, for example, the court fees to issue a divorce application rose by 34% on Monday the 21st of March 2016.  This is high but extremely modest when compared to the suggested Probate Fees scale percentage increases.

So come on do take part in this Consultation process logon on to today!

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