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Court fees in Probate cases may rise dramatically

Our People - Anthea Cowles
20 April, 2016

Currently, applications for a grant of probate cost £155 when made by a solicitor and £215 for an individual. Estates worth less than £5,000 do not have to pay a fee.

On 18 February 2016, the government published a consultation (court fees: Consultation on proposals for reform fees for grants of probate, February 2016) that proposes a dramatic increase in these fees. The government expect to raise an additional £250 million a year to contribute towards the operational costs of the court.

The following table show the banding for the proposed fee structure: –

Value of estateFee payable
Up to £50,000 or exempt from requiring a grant of probate£0
Exceeds £50,000 but does not exceed £300,000£300
Exceeds £300,000 but does not exceed £500,000£1,000
Exceeds £500,000 but does not exceed £1 million£4,000
Exceeds £1 million but does not exceed £1.6 million£8,000
Exceeds £1.6 million but does not exceed £2 million£12,000
Exceeds £2 million£20,000

Clearly, the fees do not reflect that actual work done by the Registry to process applications but then the consultation appears to openly accept that their purpose is to generate revenue.

Also, be aware that although any assets held as joint tenants passing by survivorship (or via the spousal exemption) are not included in the overall value of the estate for the purposes of calculating inheritance tax, the value IS included when identifying what probate fee is payable.

With housing values continuing to rise, a significant proportion of those applying for probate can expect to pay greatly increased fees in the future.

For more information, read the fee proposals for grants of probate consultation.

Associate Solicitor
Anthea Cowles is an associate solicitor working in the Housing/Landlord and Tenant department. She advises clients who are eligible to receive legal aid funding as well as privately paying clients.

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