Probate Court fees: snakes and one ladder

Probate Court fees: snakes and one ladder

Smith Partnership considers the impact of the proposed increase in the Probate fee regime.

You may have heard that the government has resurrected its plan to introduce a sharp increase in Probate Court fees. When the idea was last proposed in 2016 the intended increase was substantial and the government eventually bowed to sustained pressure to withdraw its plans.

Unfortunately, we now find ourselves facing another attempt to increase the fee and, whilst the fee-hike is lower than previously proposed, the increases are still extraordinary.

The cost of producing a Grant by the Court is not dependant on the value of the estate and, at present, the Probate Court fees are set at cost level. Where an application is made via a Solicitor the fee is £155 and £215 for personal applications. Estates valued under £5,000 do not have the pay a fee.

The proposed new rates are set out in the Fees Order and the reasoning in the Explanatory notes. The Government’s own thorough briefing paper is here: Briefing Paper.

For those who don’t want to wade through the published documentation the new intended rates are:

Estates up to £50,000-: nil

Exceeds £50k but does not exceed £300k: £250

Exceeds £300k but does not exceed £500k: £750

Exceeds £500k but does not exceed £1m: £2,500

Exceeds £1m but does not exceed £1.6m: £4,000

Exceeds £1.6m but does not exceed £2m: £5,000

Exceeds £2m: £6,000

Whilst it is welcome that estates up to £50,000 will no longer be subject to a Probate Court fee all other estates will be subject to an increase. Indeed, for the largest estates the increase is a staggering 3,871%.

The suggested review has been roundly criticised in the legal press and, indeed, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that is merely an attempt to swell the coffers of a struggling Government Department.

The title of this article is snakes and ladder and I’m sorry to say that this review is just that. If your estate is less than £50,000 you have the only ladder, for everyone else it’s snakes all the way.

If you require help and advice on Wills and Probate matters, contact our team of experts on 0330 123 1229.