Although the increase in probate fees to £6,000 for those estates worth more than £2,000,000 will understandably grab the headlines, the underlying policy contains more detail which should not be ignored.
Firstly it is worth remembering that this highest band is a significant reduction on the £20,000 band proposed in 2017. Secondly the government has confirmed that the threshold under which no fees are paid at all is being raised from £5,000 to £50,000. Although the government projects that about 80% of applicants will pay £750 or less, this is still a significant increase on the previous fee of £215 (or £155 for those applying through a solicitor).
However, many of the issues which were raised last year still remain. The greatest concern for a number of executors will be how to gain access to sufficient assets to pay the fee without a grant of probate. For those wealthy estates which pass entirely under the spouse exemption, liquidity has historically been less of an issue because no inheritance tax is due. Once the new rules are introduced however this will add an additional layer of complexity for executors to wrangle with.
In a written statement this afternoon, justice minister Lucy Frazer said that under a new banded structure the maximum fee will be £6,000, payable on estates worth more than £2m.