Resurrection of the “stealth tax” on death


The new probate fee system, which will increase the flat-rate fee for probates was approved by the House of Lords on December 18th 2018.

It will now go before the House of Commons and could become law in April.

Criticism of the change was reflected by the 186 to 161 vote in favour of another amendment with the new fee structure described as a stealth tax and a "misuse of the fee-levying power".

Probate fees had been due to rise from £155 (solicitor application) or £215 (personal application) to up to £20,000 for some estates in England and Wales in May 2017 with estates valued at under £5,000 being exempt.  However, the proposal was scrapped ahead of the 2017 general elections. 

The plans for the increase in fees have now reared its ugly head again!

Although not as substantial as previously proposed, grieving families could still be subject to paying up to £6,000 in probate fees.  From April 2019, the fees will be as follows:

Value of Estate New Fee
£0 - £50,000 Nil
£50,001 - £300,000 £250
£300,001 - £500,000 £750
£500,001 - £1,000,000 £2,500
£1,000,001 - £1,600,000 £4,000
£1,600,001 - £2,000,000 £5,000
£2,000,000+ £6,000

It is estimated that one in five families who will have to pay probate fees will be paying £2,500 or more.  In most cases where a deceased owns a property, it will be necessary to apply for probate and the family will need to find the money in advance which could be problematic if the deceased was cash poor.

For more advice about Wills and estate planning, please contact a member of our Wills, Trusts & Probate team at or by calling 0161 941 4000.