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The Government has announced changes in probate fees from April 2019.

Currently, the fee paid when applying for probate is £215 (or £155 for those applying through a solicitor) and there is no fee charged if the estate is worth less than £5,000.

Although the new probate fee structure does not reach the staggering levels of scaled fees which were suggested by the Government in 2017 of up to £20,000 (which were not implemented), the new changes mean there will be fee increases for some estates, with a maximum fee of £6,000 charged for estates worth over £2 million.

Ministry of Justice announcement states that the new probate fees will not be more than 0.5 per cent of the value of the estate. However, when you consider the value of property prices in England & Wales, this may mean that many estates might need to pay increased fees. For example, a fee of 0.5% on a £250,000 estate would be £1,250, rather than the current fee mentioned above of £215 (or £155).

On a more positive note, the threshold for fee exempt estates will increase from £5,000 to £50,000 and the Government estimates this will allow around 25,000 estates per annum to become fee exempt. This is good news for smaller estates.

Any executors or beneficiaries of estates where a grant of probate has not been obtained should consider the new fees and whether or not these are likely to apply.