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Grieving families face significant rise in probate fees

Government proposals unveiled this week could result in a hundredfold increase in probate fees for some families, reports The Financial Times.  The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has published its plans to reduce the £1.1bn annual cost of running the court system by introducing a revised probate fees structure in England and Wales.

The proposed changes mean that the cost of obtaining a Grant of Probate, the document that authorises Executors to administer an estate, will be directly linked to the value of the estate.  As it stands, the Grant of Probate costs £155 for estates where assets are worth £5,000 or more.

The MoJ is proposing to raise the payment threshold to £50,000, meaning that estates with assets under this value will not have to pay any probate fees whatsoever.  However, estates worth more than £50,000 will be subject to significant fee increases.  For example, an estate worth up to £300,000 will see the probate fee almost double in cost to £300.  Estates worth £300,000-£500,000 would see their probate fee increase by over 600% to £1,000, while the very wealthiest families with estates worth over £2m will have to find £20,000 to cover the cost of the Grant of Probate.

The Government hope to raise £250m a year through the revised pricing structure and claim that the “proposals would lift 30,000 estates out of paying the probate fee altogether”.  However, it has been pointed out that with increasing property values pushing up the value of many estates, more ‘ordinary’ families will now be subject to higher charges than ever before.

Tom Curran, Chief Executive of Kings Court Trust, one of the UK’s leading estate administration specialists, commented: “We have read about the proposed increase in probate fees with concern.  While estates of a lower value will benefit from the removal of a fee altogether, many ordinary families will be faced with significant additional costs at a time of great stress.  At Kings Court Trust, the cost of our estate administration services is based on the actual work involved, not the value of the estate.  We believe this is fair and transparent for the families that we support through a difficult time. We question whether the proposals will actually generate the savings that have been quoted by the Ministry of Justice and doubt whether they could be argued to constitute ‘access to justice’ as detailed within the Legal Services Act.” 

Kings Court Trust offers a comprehensive estate administration service for a guaranteed fixed fee.  For more information on our services or if you have any questions relating to the estate administration process, contact our client services team on Freephone 0300 303 9000.

Source - The Guardian