Today the Government has published its response to the consultation on proposals to reform fees for grants of probate. The consultation opened on 18 February and closed on 1 April 2016.
The Government is committed to providing a modern, world-leading justice system which is proportionate and accessible. In 2015/16, the courts and tribunals system cost £1.9 billion to run and we recovered only £700m of that through fees and other income.
The best way to protect access to justice in the long term is with a properly funded justice system. The income fees generate is necessary for an effective courts and tribunals system that supports victims and vulnerable people, and is easy for people to use.
The Government will therefore, subject to approval from Parliament:
- implement the fee structure as consulted on;
- raise the threshold under which no probate fee is payable from £5,000 to £50,000; and
- remove the grant of probate fee from the fee remissions scheme. We will retain the Lord Chancellor’s power to remit fees in exceptional circumstances.
This means we are abolishing flat fees and replacing them with a banded structure, related to the value of the estate. This includes raising the fee threshold from £5,000 to £50,000 and lifting 25,000 estates out of fees altogether. Overall, 58% of estates will pay no fee at all and 92% will pay £1,000 or less for this service.
We are confident through our engagement with organisations like the British Banking Association and Building Societies’ Association that executors will have a range of options to finance the payment.
The new fee structure will generate around £300m per year in additional fee income, which will all be reinvested back into Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service.
Full details of how the Government intends to take forward these proposals is set out in the consultation response document which has been published on the gov.uk website.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords