Government reverse decision for probate fee hike

18 Oct 2019

The government has reversed its plans to change probate fees following a widespread backlash to the proposals.

The planned changes were announced last November and would have seen an alteration to the current fees incurred for probate, which is the process of administering an estate following a person’s death. Under the current regime there is a flat fee of £215, or for those applying through a solicitor, £155.

 

Probate fees calculated on a sliding scale
The proposals planned to scrap the static fees in favour of a sliding scale that depended on the value of the deceased’s estate. Whilst this would have been good news for estates valued at £50,000 or less (as there would have been no fee at all), those estates above the £50,000 threshold would have faced significantly higher fees. For example, an estate valued between £50,000 and £300,000 would have been charged £250, whilst those in the £500,000 to £1 million bracket would have faced fees of £2,500. Those estates with assets in excess of £2 million would attract a fee of £6,000 under the new regime, an increase of £5,845 when compared to the probate fee currently payable.

 

The proposal was labelled a “stealth tax”
Defending the proposals, the government claimed that the rise in fees for probate was “fair” and would not exceed 0.5% of the estate’s value whilst raising an estimated additional £185 million per annum by the 2022/23 tax year. However, critics of the legislation labelled the fees a “stealth tax” and highlighted that the cost of administering an estate is broadly the same regardless of its value. Commenting on the reversal in policy, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said “we have listened carefully to concerns around changes to those charged for probate and will look at them again as part of a wider review to make sure all fees are fair and proportionate”.

 

Good news for grieving families
Emily Deane, the technical council of STEP (a professional association advising families on trusts and inheritance) was delighted at the government’s decision having called the proposals “a stealth tax on the bereaved”. Following the news Emily Deane commented that “STEP welcomes the news that the government has decided to scrap the proposed increase in probate fees… This at last brings an end to the uncertainty and worry that these proposals have caused to grieving families”.

Trethowans are award winning solicitors dedicated to helping families through the challenges that a bereavement can bring. To arrange a consultation with one of our specialist probate solicitors, please feel free to get in touch.