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Bereaved families ‘could face fees of up to £20,000’ under new probate plans

Millions of families potentially face a large rise in probate fees payable after death, under proposed changes. These new fees will raise an estimated £250 million for the Exchequer.

Under the new tiered system, those with sizeable estates could face maximum fees of £20,000 if the value of their estate exceeds £2 million.

For many families, the rise in probate fees constitutes a potential 129-fold increase.

Government ministers have claimed that alterations to the probate fees charged to actuate a Will would ensure a fairer system, under which many poorer families may no longer have to pay.

Currently, fees are charged at flat rates of £155 or £215.

These fees are imposed on estates worth more than £5,000. However, this figure is set to rise to £50,000. Such an increase means that some 57% of estates will pay nothing. Under the current rules, only those with estates worth less than £5,000 do not have to pay fees for probate.

Individuals with estates worth over £50,000, however, will pay significantly higher fees, ranging from £300 to a maximum of £20,000.

The Ministry of Justice has stated that a mere 1% of estates will have to pay the maximum fee of £20,000.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said: ‘Court fees are never popular but they are necessary. We have got to make sure our courts and tribunals are properly funded at the same time as cutting the budget deficit’.