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Probate fees set to rocket for larger estates

Administering a deceased person's estate could soon cost up to £20,000

Probate costs will rise to over £1,000 for thousands

The cost of administering a deceased person’s estate in England and Wales could soar to up to £20,000 in May, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has confirmed.  

Subject to parliamentary approval, the MoJ will scrap the flat fee of £215 to introduce a new tiered system based on the value of the estate.

Estates with a value of less than £50,000 will be exempt from probate fees altogether under the new system, meaning around 58% of estates will have nothing to pay.

However, those administering larger estates could end up paying far more, as illustrated in the charts below.

Value of estate Proportion of all estates in England and Wales Proposed fee
Below £50,000 58% £0
£50,001-£300,000 23% £300
£300,001-£500,000 11% £1,000
£500,000-£1m 6% £4,000
£1,000,001-£1.6m 1% £8,000
£1,600,001-£2m 0.3% £12,000
Above £2m 0.5% £20,000

Find out more: Which? Legal probate service – expert probate guidance when you need it most

What else is changing?

Executors will also no longer be able to claim help paying probate fees under the general remissions scheme, though there will be exceptions in extreme cases.

Responses to the consultation said that most executors who struggle to pay probate fees are administering estates worth less than £50,000, in which case fees will no longer be due.

What’s more, in cases where the executor struggles to pay probate fees up front, the probate service may grant permission for them to pay out of the estate.

Find out more: DIY probate – all you need to know to administer an estate yourself

What are probate fees?

Probate fees are due when an estate’s executor applies for a grant of probate, which gives them permission to gather someone’s assets and distribute them to beneficiaries, as directed by the deceased’s will.

Currently, probate fees are £215 per personal application, irrespective of the size of the estate concerned. For applications made through a solicitor, the rate is set at £155.

Fees will not be charged if the estate is worth less than the threshold (currently set at £5,000), or if the estate is passed in its entirety to the deceased’s spouse by survivorship.

Need help with probate?

If you are the executor or administrator for someone’s estate, it is your responsibility to deal with the assets they leave behind. This can be seen as intimidating or overwhelming at a time when you’re coping with the death of a loved one

Which? Legal probate service offers fixed fee guidance through the probate process. Find out more by calling 01992 825001 Monday to Friday 8.30am to 6pm.

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