Probate fees to increase under new charging structure

Government plans huge rises in probate fees charged after death

A new system could see some pay £20,000 when left estates worth more than £2m by a deceased relative. The government is planning huge rises in the probate fees charged when an individual dies and leaves property to their relatives in a bid to raise an additional £250m a year.

The flat £215 fee will be replaced with a new system of tiered charges that would result in some paying as much as £20,000 for estates worth more than £2m.

For estates worth between £500,000 and £1m the new fee will be £4,000, rising to £8,000 for those worth between £1m and £1.6m, and £12,000 for those valued at between £1.6m and £2m.

Given the sharp rise in the value of property in many parts of the UK in recent years, many families could find themselves hit by the higher charges after a loved one passes away.

Obtaining a grant of probate is the process by which someone is given the authority to deal with the property, money and possessions of a person after they die.

It is usually sought by the executor of a will or a person acting on their behalf. Not all estates need to go through probate, with around half of deaths leading to an application for a grant of probate in England and Wales.

The Ministry of Justice said the measures would also mean that estates worth less than £50,000 – 57% of the total – would pay no fees, while a further 27% would incur a “modest” increase of £85 to £300.

The changes are part of a drive to reduce the cost of running courts and tribunals to taxpayers.

Justice minister Shailesh Vara said court fees were never popular, but that he maximum £20,000 fee would “only be paid by the very wealthiest estates”, while charges would never be more than 1% of its total value.

He said 84% of estates would incur fees of £300 or nothing, and 94% would pay £1,000 or less.

Read the Full Article by Chris Johnston  at the Guardian website

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/feb/19/government-plans-huge-rises-in-probate-fees-charged-after-death