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From 1 April 2019, probate fees are set to increase significantly. Here, we take a look at the changes, and consider the reaction to the rise.

Current costs

Currently, for estates valued at over £5,000, a grant application made by an agent is subject to a flat fee of £155. Meanwhile, a grant application made by an individual is subject to a fee of £215.

Rising probate fees

From 1 April 2019, probate fees are set to increase. According to the government, the new fee structure is ‘banded and fairer’, and no longer applies a flat fee. The threshold at which the new fees become payable will rise from £5,000 to £50,000. Estates which do not reach this threshold will not be required to pay a fee for an application for a grant of probate.

The table below summarises the new banded fee structure.

Estate value

Fee

Up to £50,000/exempt individuals

£0

Between £50,000 and £300,000

£250

Between £300,000 and £500,000

£750

Between £500,000 and £1 million

£2,500

Between £1 million and £1.6 million

£4,000

Between £1.6 million and £2 million

£5,000

More than £2 million

£6,000

The government predicts that, by raising the threshold at which fees become payable, ‘25,000 additional estates per year will be exempt from paying fees altogether’. It also predicts that more than half of estates will pay nothing, either because they are exempt or because they do not require a grant of probate. Of the estates that will be required to pay, 60% will pay a fee of £250, according to the government.

Reaction to the changes

The changes have been met with considerable criticism. Experts have stated that the rise in fees will make it ‘impossible’ for many families to access assets without falling into debt. MPs have also voiced concerns that the increase could disadvantage charities, and have warned that higher fees could impact on legacies.

John O’Connell, Chief Executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: ‘It’s hard enough to deal with the loss of a loved one without the government stepping in and taking away so much through inheritance tax, and now this proposed increase to probate charges. While probate can be bureaucratically burdensome, these death tax hikes are totally unreasonable and will hit taxpayers even harder.’