MoJ proposes “fairer, banded system” of probate fees

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has announced plans to introduce a “fairer, banded system” of probate fees, which could take effect from May 2017 if approved by Parliament.

According to the MoJ, the proposed changes, which will replace the current flat fees with a ‘sliding scale’ of charges, will enable 92 per cent of estates to pay no more than £1,000.

However, reports suggest that some higher-value estates may have to pay more than 129 times the current level should the new fee system go ahead.

If introduced, charges under the new system will be as follows:

  • Estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 will pay £300.
  • Estates worth between £300,000 and £500,000 will pay £1,000.
  • Estates worth between £500,000 and £1m will pay £4,000.
  • Estates worth between £1m and £1.6m will pay £8,000.
  • Estates worth between £1.6m and £2m will pay £12,000.
  • Estates below £50,000 will be exempt from charges.

Commenting on the proposals, a MoJ spokesperson said: “Fees are necessary to maintain an accessible, world-leading justice system which puts the needs of victims and vulnerable people first”.

However, the Law Society has criticised the proposals as “unfair and discriminatory”.

It says that the MoJ is planning the increases as part of a move to raise an extra £250m a year to fund the UK Courts and Tribunal service.

A Law Society spokesperson said: “Court fees are a necessary source of funding but should not be charged over and above the cost of the specific service.

“It is unfair and discriminatory to expect the bereaved to fund/subsidise other parts of the Court and Tribunals service”.

Carter Lemon Camerons LLP Solicitors is a City law firm which provides wills and probate services with a personal touch to its clients. Unlike many City practices we are happy to act in smaller private legal matters, bringing the same care and consideration as we do to large commercial matters.  If you require advice on wills and probate, or tax planning, please contact Ian West or Michael Woodward or telephone: 020 7406 1000.