01 May 2019

Back in the summer of 2017 I was warning of the turmoil which would be brought in by the proposed extortionate rise in probate court fees. Thankfully this rise did not happen and the fees remained at either £155 or £215.

Unfortunately the proposal has been resurrected, be it on a slightly lesser scale. The new fees were due to come into force in April, but at the time of writing the government has not had time to pass the relevant legislation. They may well be in force by the time of this publication.

As before, there will be a scale of probate court fees, based on the value of the estate, ranging from nil for estates under £50,000, then from £250 for estates up to £300,000 up to £6,000 for estates in excess of £2m, with various levels in between. The main attack on the proposal last time was that this was a stealth tax on inheritance and it is difficult to see what differs this time. As bank accounts are frozen on death until a Grant of Probate is obtained, there may also be cash flow difficulties for Executors. At the moment there is a facility for banks releasing funds to pay inheritance tax before the Grant is obtained, but not Court fees.

As with inheritance tax, court fees should not dictate how you structure your finances during your lifetime. But it may be worth reviewing your finances, particularly if you are married, to see what could be done to simplify matters when one of you dies and perhaps avoiding the necessity of applying for a Grant of Probate.

For more information on Probate Court fees contact Christine Butterfield on 01305 216205 or