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|Value of estate (before inheritance tax)||Proportion of all estates in England and Wales||Proposed fee|
|Up to £50,000 or exempt from requiring a grant of probate||58%||£0|
|Exceeds £50,000 but does not exceed £300,000||23%||£300|
|Exceeds £300,000 but does not exceed £500,000||11%||£1,000|
|Exceeds £500,000 but does not exceed £1m||6%||£4,000|
|Exceeds £1m but does not exceed £1.6m||1%||£8,000|
|Exceeds £1.6m but does not exceed £2m||0.3%||£12,000|
'In order for our courts and tribunal system to continue to provide access to justice in the long term, we must look at ways to make sure that HMCTS is funded adequately now and in the future. As part of this, we must consider the case for increases in court and tribunal fees ... these increases are necessary.'Sarah Roberts, Senior Associate at Coffin Mew Solicitors:
'This is a shocking example of ruthlessness from the Ministry of Justice. This policy preys on individuals at a time they will be extremely vulnerable following a bereavement, to subsidise other users of the Court service (who may be very wealthy). There is no justification for basing Probate fees on the value of the estate – the work for the Probate Registry is exactly the same, whether the estate is worth £1 or £10 million. More importantly, this could be highly disproportionate, since the new charges won’t fall only on rich individuals, but those who inherit, including young children and charities. In asserting that this is ‘fairer’, our government seem to be taking their lead from the US with ‘alternative facts’!Executors are often going to have a hard time finding these fees, as estate assets are frozen until after Probate is obtained. It was disappointing that the consultation response was so flippant in its disregard of this very serious problem, when raised by so many.
Not only is this a tax by the backdoor, it may lead to more errors and penalties for inheritance tax, as people accidentally misdeclare estates to reduce fees, especially when combined with the new inheritance tax rules on residences.
I also anticipate an increased appetite for trusts and transferring assets to others. This could leave vulnerable people exposed to the risk of losing their home later in life as well as reducing transparency and increasing the societal divide between rich and poor, in direct conflict with other government objectives.'