Potential new probate fees to be introduced in May 2017

Despite widespread opposition, a new sliding scale of probate fees looks set to be introduced in May this year, which in many cases will see a significant rise in the current levels of court costs.

The process of ‘probate’ happens when someone dies, and the right to deal with their Estate (so their property, money and possessions) needs to be established. You can apply to the court to do probate yourself, or else appoint a solicitor or other licensed probate practitioner.

The fees, which will be based on the value of an Estate, can rise to as much as £20,000, which is a huge increase on the current £155 flat fee you would pay if a solicitor applies for probate on your behalf, or £215 if you do it yourself.

The new costs are set to be:

Value of estateFee required
£2,000,001 or more£20,000

These charges – which are due to be introduced in May, although the specific date is still not yet known – are payable in addition to Inheritance Tax.

The Government has said such increases are “necessary” to help fund the court and tribunal system for the long-term, but opposition to this has been strong and wide-ranging.

As a result of this, it is expected the fees are to be re-examined in Parliament after Easter, ahead of their proposed introduction. However, until such time as a decision is made to the contrary, we have to prepare for the new fees to take effect.

The introduction of the new fees will undoubtedly add another level of complexity to Estate planning, as people who will be affected by some of the higher charges look to find ways to avoid further financial penalties.

Jessica Morton is a Wills and Probate specialist solicitor at Newcastle law firm Sintons. To speak to her about this or any other matter, contact Jessica on Jessica.morton@sintons.co.uk or 0191 226 7801.

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