Rise in probate fees scrapped ahead of snap election

The Government has scrapped controversial plans to raise the cost of probate fees ahead of this June’s general election.

Probate fees in England and Wales had been due to rise from £155 (if using a solicitor) or £215 to up to £20,000 for some estate.

The Ministry of Justice said, following the surprise news of a general election, there was now not enough time to get the new system’s legislation through the current parliament.

It is unclear if the Conservative Party will re-introduce the scheme if they are re-elected.

Probate fees are paid to the government when someone dies and the executor of their estate gathers their assets to distribute to beneficiaries of a will.

Currently, while there is there is a flat fee of £155 (if the application is make through a solicitor) for probate for estates valued at more than £5000.

Proposed changes

The government intended to replace the current system in May when they would introduce a sliding fee scale linked to the value of the estate.

Thousands of people would have faced sharp jumps in probate costs as a result.

Estates worth more than £50,000 and up to £300,000 would have attracted fees of £300, rising to £20,000 for those valued at more than £2m.

Stealth Tax

Many commentators accused the government of praying on the bereaved by using probate fees as a stealth tax. 

The new system, however, would also have raised the threshold at which no fee is payable from £5,000 to £50,000, lifting many smaller estates out of the requirement to pay a probate fee.

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