This petition was submitted during the 2015–2017 Conservative government
Petition To reconsider the proposed significant and unreasonable increase in probate fees
The current fee for all estates is £155. The change mean fees on 42% of estates will increase by 2 to 129 times, payable even if the estate passes to spouse or charity. There is no difference in the amount of work to issue a Grant for £100k or £800k and yet the fees will be £3,700 more.
This proposal will reduce the government's income from IHT. This is another form of death duty which will need paying upfront. Finding fees of £155 is different from finding the equivalent of a family car. This will lead to hardship for some executors. People will ensure assets pass without the need for probate by putting assets into inappropriate trusts or into joint names, risking their homes. These fees are being increased to subsidise the rest of the court system
This petition closed early because of a General Election Find out more on the Petitions Committee website
This response was given on 5 April 2017
The Government is reforming fees for grants of probate by replacing flat fees with a new fairer and proportionate tiered structure, where the fee payable relates to the value of the estate.
Read the response in full
The best way to protect access to justice in the long term is with a properly funded justice system that is easy for ordinary people to use.
In 2015/16, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service cost around £1.9 billion to run, with only around £700m recovered in fees. We do not believe that the taxpayer should continue to meet all of this cost, and it is fair to ask those who can afford it to contribute more.
Parliament has given Lord Chancellor the power to set certain fees, including probate, above cost-recovery levels, and the income raised is ring-fenced to fund an efficient and effective court and tribunal system.
Under our new probate fee structure, more than half of all estates will pay no fee at all. This includes an extra 25,000 estates who will no longer pay fees under our plans to raise the fee threshold from £5,000 to £50,000 estate value. A fee will not be payable if a married couple or civil partners held their assets jointly, as on the death of the first spouse or partner the assets would pass to the surviving spouse directly without a grant of probate being required.
Under our proposals, over 90% of estates will pay £1,000 or less. No fee will be more than 1% of the total value of the estate. This is fair and proportionate.
There are a number of ways that executors will be able to fund the new fees. The cost of the fee is recoverable from the estate, and executors have a number of options to fund it – no fee should be unaffordable. We expect that in most cases, banks will release cash from the estate to pay for the fee.
The Probate Service will also be able to provide access for executors to the assets of the estate for the purpose of paying the necessary fee, and other avenues of funding will also be available. In exceptional circumstances where this is not possible or appropriate the Lord Chancellor retains the power to remit the fee.
Ministry of Justice