You may have seen in the press that the government is trying to increase the court fees for obtaining grants of probate. Here's what's been proposed.

Despite strong opposition from the legal profession and consumers, a draft order is currently being considered and it is expected that this will be implemented from April this year.

The proposed changes

There is currently a flat fee of £155 for solicitor applications on all estates in excess of £5,000. The proposal is to introduce a scale of fees in relation to the value of the estate which will significantly increase the fees payable for most estates. The details are as follows:

Value of estate

Proposed fee

Up to £50,000

£0

£50,000 to £300,000

£250

£300,000 to £500,000

£750

£500,000 to £1 million

£2,500

£1 million to £1.6 million

£4,000

£1.6 million to £2 million

£5,000

Over £2 million

£6,000

A similar order, but with much higher fees, was attempted in 2017 but was abandoned due to the backlash it received and the timing, as the reforms were planned immediately before the general election.

The order has recently received the approval of House of Commons Delegated Legislation Committee and it is highly likely the reforms will come in. It is hoped that, if the new fees are to be implemented, they apply only to estates where the death takes place after April. However, at the moment this is not the case and these new fees would therefore apply to all grant applications made after the implementation date in April. An exact date has not yet been confirmed.

These fee increases are an additional consideration for executors, particularly where the nature of the estate assets may mean cash is not immediately available, for example, if the main asset is a property.