Government scraps planned probate fee increases

The Ministry of Justice has abolished controversial plans to increase probate fees, which would have seen some bereaved families paying up to £6,000 for probate.

Probate Fee Increases Abolished

What were the proposed probate fee changes?

Earlier this year, the Government revived its 2017 plan for an increase in probate application fees for estates in England and Wales. The proposed changes were set to see fees levied based on the value of an estate, with around 56,000 families expected to face bills of between £2,500 and £6,000.

What are the current probate fees?

Currently in the UK, there is a flat fee for probate of £215 for a personal application or £155 for those applying through a solicitor, if the estate is worth £5,000 or more.

Why were probate fees going to increase?

The Government said that the drastic increase in fees would have raised around £185m a year for the Ministry of Justice and was necessary to fund the current comprehensive reform of the courts and tribunal system. However, some charity bodies calculated that moving from a flat fee to a banded system would cost charities around £10m a year.

Why have the new probate fee plans been abolished?

The changes were due to come into force in April this year but were delayed indefinitely as some of the changes still needed to be approved by Parliament. However, following the backlash, Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland has abandoned the proposed changes to probate fees, claiming the rise was not ‘fair and proportionate’.

What will happen now to probate fees?

It’s understood that the existing fee structure of £215 for a personal application or £155 for those applying through a solicitor will be retained while the Ministry of Justice conducts a wider review of court fees.

Rachael Kell, Associate and Probate Manager at Wright Hassall LLP commented: 

“This is long awaited positive news that will relieve many executors and administrators yet to apply for probate. It is a shame that the proposals forced many to have to rush to get applications in before the proposed increase, and the second time this has happened, causing additional worry at an already difficult time.

"We still expect to see a more proportionate increase at some time in the future, so it is in everyone’s interest when dealing with an estate to proceed in a timely manner so they do not find themselves caught out again."

See also

Online probate service expanded in national trial

Place a Deceased Estates notice

What to do after someone dies: a checklist

Find out more

Applying for probate (Gov)

Image: Getty Images

Publication date: 19 October 2019