UK

Flat £273 fee for probate to avert a £6k ‘death tax’

Flat £273 fee for probate to avert a £6k ‘death tax’: Plan for a levy that would hit grieving families with huge bills gets replaced with proposals for flat payment

  • Probate charges to jump after proposal for controversial ‘death tax’ is dropped
  • Ministers say higher charges are needed because system currently runs at a loss
  • Estates valued at £5,000 or less will continue to be exempt from the new fee 

Plans for a ‘death tax’ that would have hit grieving families with bills of up to £6,000 have been replaced with proposals for a flat fee.

Probate charges for individual executors will increase from current fees of £215 to £273, a 27 per cent jump.

Professional users of the probate system, such as solicitors, will see fees rise 76 per cent from £155 to the new flat rate.

It comes after the Government dropped controversial plans that would have seen 280,000 families a year pay on a ‘sliding scale’ tied to the value of the deceased’s estate.

Probate charges for individual executors will increase from current fees of £215 to £273, a 27 per cent jump [File photo]

The Daily Mail highlighted at the time how it would have left 56,000 families facing bills of £2,500 to £6,000 to secure probate – the term given to the legal right to a dead person’s property, money and possessions. 

Estates valued at £5,000 or less will continue to be exempt from the new fee, due to be introduced early next year.

Ministers say higher charges are needed because the system currently runs at a loss.

Publishing a consultation paper yesterday, courts minister Chris Philp said: ‘This is a far more modest increase than previous proposals and directly tied to the cost of providing the service. It is also markedly different to the Government’s previous proposals to raise income from probate fees.

‘I hope it is clear that this Government has listened to the previous concerns of stakeholders, and has proposed a fair and proportionate approach to funding an important service, whilst reducing the burden on the taxpayer.’

Professional users of the probate system, such as solicitors, will see fees rise 76 per cent from £155 to the new flat rate [File photo]

Professional users of the probate system, such as solicitors, will see fees rise 76 per cent from £155 to the new flat rate [File photo]

The Ministry of Justice estimates it will raise between £23million and £25million a year in extra fees, making the service self-sufficient.

A ministry spokesman said: ‘Every penny from these fees will go towards the cost of processing applications – meaning taxpayers will no longer be forced to subsidise them.’ According to the paper, the family jurisdiction of HM Courts and Tribunals Service, of which the probate system is part, runs at an £85million a year deficit.

Plans for a sliding scale of probate fees published three years ago predicted many executors would have to get a loan to cover the higher charges. They were dropped in 2019 after an outcry.

Consultation on the new charges will be open until September 23.

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