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The controversial increase in probate fees

The government has controversially revived plans to increase probate fees drastically. These were dropped before last year's snap election. It is proposed that no fee will be payable for estates up to £50,000 (currently the threshold is just £5,000) but above that the fees will be:

  • £250 for estates up to £300,000
  • £750 for estates up to £500,000
  • £2,500 for estates up to £1m
  • £4,000 for estates up to £1.6m
  • £5,000 for estates up to £2m
  • £6,000 for estates over £2m

The amounts are less than those originally proposed, but are still considerably higher than the current flat fees of £155 / £215. The increases have been called a stealth tax and it is difficult to see the justification for linking the fee to the value of the estate when this has no bearing on the work involved to issue a grant. Perversely, an estate passing to a spouse or a charity that is exempt from inheritance tax could have to pay a fee of several thousands of pounds for what is essentially a rubber stamping exercise.

We understand the new fee structure will take effect from April 2019, although both the House of Lords and a parliamentary committee have queried whether the increases are a misuse of parliament's fee-raising powers, particularly in light of other reforms to digitalise applications which should decrease costs.

December 2018

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240 Blackfriars Road
London
SE1 8NW
DX 53 Chancery Lane

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7629 7411
Fax: +44 (0)20 7629 2621
Email: bh@boodlehatfield.com

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