Article first published: The Daily Telegraph.
The Government is pushing ahead with controversial plans to dramatically raise the fees paid by families when they wind up the estate of a loved one.
The proposals will see estates worth £2m or more pay £6,000 in probate fees. The 3,770pc increase is a reduction on the original plans, which would have involved a bill of £20,000 for the largest estates. Estates with a value of between £1m and £1.6m will have to pay £4,000. In London and the South East, where high house prices have led to increased property wealth, many families will be caught out. Currently, a £215 flat fee applies if probate is applied for by friends or family, or £155 if a solicitor completes the process.
The money is due before any funds can be released from the estate and so bereaved relatives may need to take loans to cover the extra cost.
Helen Stewart of law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore said the new fees did not represent the true cost of the actual work involved in dealing with a probate application. “All grant applications involve the same amount of work. Regrettably, this announcement will be seen by many as another form of wealth tax,” she added.
How much will your family pay for probate?
Value of estate
(before inheritance tax)
|Up to £50,000 or exempt from requiring a grant of probate
|£50,000 - £300,000
|£300,000 - £500,000
|£500,000 - £1m
|£1m - £1.6m
|£1.6m - £2m
Source: Ministry of Justice