The FT has reported that wealthy families face paying up to £6,000 to execute the will of a deceased relative after the government this week confirmed it was pressing ahead with reforms to probate charges.
From April 2019, a six-band probate fee structure will replace the current flat rate of £215, or £155 if estates are settled through a solicitor. The fee allows an executor to distribute a deceased person’s property and finances.
Those with estates valued between £50,000 and £300,000 will pay £250, and those with estates worth £500,000 to £1m will pay £2,500. Those with estates worth over £2m will face the maximum £6,000, a 3,770 per cent increase on the current cost.
Matthew Yates, partner at law firm Hunters Solicitors, said:
“Two years on from the last time the government tried to ratchet up Probate court fees, the Ministry of Justice is at it again. Reports suggest executors will need to pay up to £6.000 to apply for a Grant of Probate from April 2019, an increase from £155 currently if a solicitor is applying for you.
“The increase is less than that proposed in 2016 when the maximum fee would have been £20.000, but still represents a massive hike in essentially an administrative fee. The principle seems to be that more valuable estates will pay higher Probate court fees, in a bid to plug gaps in the Court Service budget. But there is no difference in the work undertaken by the Probate Registry to issue a Grant for an estate worth £100.000 compared to one worth £10.000,000.
“This is essentially a form of taxation, being proposed outside of the Budget presumably to attract less attention and scrutiny. The last attempt by government to substantially increase Probate fees was quietly dropped last year, coincidentally just at the time Theresa May decided to call an election. However there is no likelihood of an imminent poll to allow electors to express their view.
“The government is probably banking on there being less opposition to an increase which is significantly less than they proposed in 2016. Without a concerted effort by practitioners, professional groups and the general public, the government may well be able to push this increase through.”