Probate fee increases ‘amount to stealth tax’

7th December 2018

A House of Lords committee has criticised the Government's plans to increase probate fees, saying they amount to a "stealth tax" and a "misuse of the fee-levying power".

Probate fees in England and Wales are currently charged a flat rate of £155 if the application is made through a solicitor or £215 if made by an individual.

However, the Government has proposed to replace this system with a sliding scale of fees, based on value of the estate.

Under the suggested bands, an estate with a value of more than £2 million would pay £6,000 in probate charges, amounting to an increase of 2,690%.

Value of estate before inheritance tax  Proposed fee 
 Up to £50,000 or exempt from requiring a grant of probate £0
 £50,000 - £300,000 £250
 £300,000 - £500,000 £750
 £500,000 - £1m £2,500
 £1m - £1.6m £4,000
 £1.6m - £2m £5,000
 Above £2m  £6,000

Similar plans to revise the probate fee structure were made in 2017, which would have seen some estates charged up to £20,000, but this legislation was not able to pass through parliament.

While the new structure does not increase fees to the same extent, the House of Lords said "the principle underlying the policy has not changed", and reiterated its criticism of the earlier plans.

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