In spite of overwhelming protest from solicitors, the government are pressing ahead with a massive hike in probate fees to prop up a struggling court system. For estates worth more than £50,000, fees will increase from the current flat rate of £155 to between £300 and £20,000 depending on the value of the estate.

Claire Davis, Director, SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) said:
“SFE is extremely disappointed to see that the consensus to reject the proposed probate fees has been ignored. For the 62% of estates that use a solicitor, probate registry performs a purely administrative role, and the value of the estate has no bearing on the work undertaken. To burden larger estates with a significantly larger fee is an unfair form of taxation. For people in this situation, their property is often their primary asset, and they have little cash to pay for higher probate fees, on top of other necessities such as IHT or the use of a solicitor. The increase in probate fees will place a burden on families at a sensitive and distressing time and is likely to put people who are vulnerable and/or elderly at risk. Our fear is that such clients might be persuaded to take steps to avoid probate fees, even if the effect is to leave them with insufficient assets to provide for themselves for the rest of their life.”

Andrea Ashton of Maxwell Hodge had the following to say:
“I am disappointed that the Government are intending to proceed with the increase in probate fees despite the professions overwhelming rejection to the proposals. The new fees are effectively a new tax, as the current existing flat fee fully meets the cost of the probate service.
The new rules will have a huge impact on estates that are property rich and cash poor, as if funds are not available within the estate to meet the probate fees up front, the Government seems to expect the Executors of the estate to fund the probate fees themselves.”