Changes to probate fees: soaring fees and upfront payments could leave many in financial hardship

From April 2019, there will be changes to probate fees in England and Wales, the government has announced. The changes, which will see a new fee structure implemented, are said to leave many out of pocket rather than saving any costs.

Probate fees – which are paid when administering a person’s estate following their death – will be made dependent on the value of the estate, as opposed to a flat fee being paid. Currently, fees are fixed at £215, or £155 for families who use a solicitor on estates over £5000.

Under the new fee structure proposed, however, if the estate’s value is over £50,000, probate fees will be significantly higher. For example, estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 will be faced with a £250 fee, with estates worth £2 million or more being hit with the maximum charge of £6,000.

A breakdown of the proposed fees are as follows:

  • Estates valued over £2 million = £6,000 probate fee
  • Estates valued between £1.6 million and £2 million = £5,000 probate fee
  • Estates valued between £1 million and £1.6 million = £4,000 probate fee
  • Estates valued between £500,000 and £1 million = £2,500, probate fee
  • Estates valued between £300,000 and £500,000 = £750 probate fee
  • Estates valued between £50,000 to £300,000 = £250 probate fee
  • Estates valued at less than £50,000 = No probate fee

In addition to the hike in fees, there is also the matter of executors having to pay the charges upfront. If funds cannot be accessed in the estate before grant of probate, executors will have to find other ways of gathering the funds if they are not readily available. This could result in turning to loans to cover the probate fee.

Louise Williams, partner and head of probate, wills and trusts department at Hutchinson Thomas, suggests thinking ahead when it comes to matters of probate as a result of the new fee proposal:

“It is best to think ahead in light of the new probate fee structure to help get finances in order. Huge sums will need to be available upfront and very few people have such significant funds readily available.

“The proposed fees will most certainly impact those thinking about what will happen to their estate should anything happen to them and it is likely risky affairs could occur if legal advice isn’t sought.

“The restructuring of probate fees was discussed back in 2017 so although the changes in April aren’t surprising, the fee increases do raise eyebrows considering the probate office still does the same volume of work regardless of the value of the estate. Yet the fact is the change will be in force in just a few months, so acting now is imperative.”

For specialist legal advice regarding probate, contact Louise Williams on 01639 640153 or email