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The UK Government has launched a consultation over proposals to reform the fee system for applying for a grant of probate in England and Wales.

A grant of probate gives the executor of an estate the legal right to wind up the estate. In Scotland, where the process is different, it is known as a grant of confirmation.

The new fee regime proposed by the Government will move from a flat to a banded fee approach, proportionate to, and rising with, the value of the estate. At the same time, the Government proposes to increase the value of the estate below which no fee is payable from £5,000 to £50,000, which it says will lift some 30,000 estates out of paying any fee.

According to the Government, the changes are necessary to provide sufficient funding for the courts and tribunal service in England and Wales. The Government says that its proposals would raise around an additional £250 million a year, which is a critical contribution to cutting the deficit and reducing the burden on the taxpayer of running the courts and tribunals.

However, the proposals have been heavily criticised in some quarters, with the potential fee increases being described as “astronomical”, reports the BBC.

Current fees are fixed at either £155 or £215 and apply to estates of over £5,000. Under the proposed changes, estates worth more than the new threshold of £50,000 will pay substantially more, explains the BBC. For estates valued at over £2 million, the fee will be as much as £20,000.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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