Probate fees soar to £20k to fund courts

Topics: Courts business,Government & politics,Wills & Probate

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comments (44)
  • Save

Related images

  • Richard frimston

The Ministry of Justice is proposing a massive increase in probate fees for the highest-value estates in an effort to raise an extra £250m a year to fund the courts and tribunal service.

The rise in fees could leave beneficiaries of the most valuable estates - worth over £2m - paying £20,000, as much as 129 times more than current levels. 

Advertisement

But the Ministry of Justice said the proposals would lift 30,000 estates out of paying the probate fee altogether, by raising the threshold value of estates exempt from paying any fees to £50,000 up from £5,000.

In a letter to the House of Commons justice select committee, justice minister Shailesh Vara said: ‘These proposals are progressive, with lower-value estates lifted out of paying any fee at all and other estates only paying more as the value of estate increases.

‘They are also necessary, making a significant contribution to reducing the deficit and enabling investment, which will transform the courts and tribunals service.’

Under the proposals, estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 would pay a £300 fee, with fees progressively rising from estates worth between £300,000 and £2m. Estates valued at over £2m would be charged £20,000.

Current fees stand at £215 for individual applications, and £155 for those applying for probate through a solicitor.

Vara said: ‘Court fees are never popular but they are necessary if we are, as a nation, to live within our means. These proposals would raise around an additional £250m a year, which is a critical contribution to cutting the deficit and reducing the burden on the taxpayer of running the courts and tribunals.’

The MoJ said that while the income currently raised through probate fees fully covers the cost of the probate service, it needs to go further to reduce the £1.1bn burden on taxpayers to cover the cost of funding the courts and tribunals system.

But Richard Frimston (pictured), partner and head of the private client group at London firm Russell-Cooke, described the fee proposals as ‘preposterous’ and said they would effectively amount to a tax on London.

‘Yet again they are stealing money from grannies’ properties,’ he said, adding that many clients will find ways of avoiding the fees.

Joyce Bradbeer, a probate partner at Moore Blatch, said: ‘Although moving the proposed fee structure from a flat to a banded fee is, in certain cases, deemed fairer and more progressive than the current structure, it also means that those with larger estates will be paying significantly more, even though the work that the Probate Registry has to do is virtually the same whatever the value of the estate.

‘But, more to the point, how are the executors going to raise the money to pay for this? Access to cash is extremely limited prior to the issue of the grant of representation.’

Jonathan Smithers, president of the Law Society, said: 'We support the Ministry of Justice’s aim of a simpler, more streamlined process for probate users. Many people would regard a progressive fee structure as a fairer way to charge for the service, but the fees proposed for high value estates do not bear any relation to the work or value involved. We will put forward our arguments in our written response to the consultation.'

Readers' comments (44)

  • Having taxed already taxed savings at 40%, they now want to impose these ridiculously high fees, which "customers" have no choice whether to pay or not. This is downright theft.
    perhaps savings can be made by not spending untold millions on wasteful botch ups, unwanted initiatives etc. Sack the politicians - that should probably pay for the courts and leave some change for the NHS as well.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • And perhaps if the Courts and the Judiciary would start acting in honour and stop conducting themselves right across the board, from inferior courts to superior, in collusion and fraud. They would not need to waste so much money defending valid complaints and claims raised against them.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • As a clin neg lawyer I frequently need to take out probate to bring a Fatal Accident case.

    On a big claim our clients are now facing a £20k probate fee and a £10k issue fee.

    Madness !

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment


  • Yes folks, we are still making massive Overseas Aid payments to Nuclear-Armed Countries (eg Pakistan)... meanwhile British Citizens can't get legal aid and now this extra Inheritance Tax is being proposed...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • A fee is for a service and should be proportionate to the cost, this is another pure tax on death as there is no additional cost. It is just another government money grab on the middle classes along with pensions...

    As Marshall Hall said above, the government should look at where they are currently wasting significant amounts of UK tax payers money rather than just trying to grab more by proposing actions like this.

    "These proposals would raise around an additional £250m a year", perhaps Google, Amazon or Apple should be funding this rather than cosy lunches for civil servants.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It is the Crown and Courts themselves that are the perpetual problem here and not the people as a whole and or the court users as individuals attempting to utilise such services. There are blatant abuses and misuses of public funds going on daily behind closed doors to affect enforcement and the backing up of matters that are without the agreement and or valid consultation with those people who will be most affected, them being general members of the public. where the majority of what is being funded has nothing whatsoever to do with the overall wellbeing and prosperity of the people of this land. The Public Purse is once again the target of treasures to be plundered by a barrage of crooks,thieves and pirates.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Surely processing a probate application costs the Courts much the same regardless of the size of the estate.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • And of course, client executors as well as residuary beneficiaries, will expect solicitors and particularly solicitor executors, to stand this disbursement to obtain the grant so that they can administer the estate.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Yes I can see the complaints heading to the Legal Ombudsman, for delay in solicitor executors administering an estate because they don't have a spare £20k in office account. It may lead to many solicitors renouncing and leaving it to the beneficiaries to sort out which is a shame because that is not what the deceased intended.

    At lease the LeO will get their £400 for each complaint though so its all good!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Then there is the value of the estate for probate vs the value of the estate for IHT purposes. So where the only beneficiary is the wife, no IHT but these potentially massive probate fees.

    Try explaining that to the recently bereaved wife.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10per page20per page50per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comments (44)
  • Save

Advertisement

Sign up for email news alerts

Daily Update. Keep abreast of the latest developments that affect the profession

Legal Services

Browse the magazine

Current Issue

The Gazette offers you up-to-the-minute national and international news, opinion, features, in-depth articles plus a jobs and appointments section.

Please click the link below for a digital edition