On 5th November 2018, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice Lucy Frazer QC MP announced an increase in probate fees. In England and Wales, probate fees – the charge paid for administering someone’s estate after they die – will now be paid on a sliding scale depending on how much the estate is worth, beginning in April 2019.
Before the 2017 General Election, the Government had planned to change the way that probate fees were structured, moving from a flat fee to a sliding scale that maxed out at £20,000 for estates over £2 million. After the loss of their majority in Parliament, these plans were dropped and probate fees remained at £215 for all estates over £5,000, or £155 if the application was made through a solicitor.
This time, the fees that will be payable are lower than those proposed last time, with a maximum fee of £6,000 for estates valued at over £2 million. While this is significantly lower than the £20,000 originally proposed, it still represents a large increase from the £215 fee that would currently be charged.
However, for estates worth less than £50,000, there will be no charge at all, which the Government has stated will lift around 25,000 estates annually out of fees altogether but if the estate’s value is higher, there will be an increase in probate fees. Estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 will now be charged £250.