Ministry of Justice Scraps Plan to Raise Probate Fees

The Government has scrapped controversial plans to overhaul Probate Fees, which would have seen the wealthiest families pay almost £6,000 or more to secure legal control over a deceased personal estate.

The changes proposed last year, would have replaced the current flat fee system, with the sliding scale of charges rising according to the size of the estate.

At present, individuals in England and Wales pay a Probate Fee of £215 on estates worth more than £5,000.

The Ministry of Justice has now dropped plans to replace this with a six-band charging structure, which would have seen those with estates worth more than two million pound or more, being charged with the maximum figure £6,000. According to our calculations a 3370% increase on the current cost.

It also proposed raising the threshold for Probate charges from £5,000 to £50,000, which has been estimated to lift about 25,000 estates a year out of the fees altogether. However, an estimated 280,000 families annually would have face higher charges.

The Ministry of Justice has been forecast to receive an extra 185 million pound a year by virtue of the changes by 2022/23.

Changes to the Probate Fee structure was originally due to apply from April 2019, but had already been delayed due to Brexit, and a lack of parliamentary time to debate the motion, plus a dispute over whether they constituted a fee increase, or a tax rise.

The proposals met with widespread public opposition, including campaigns by tabloid newspapers, which dubbed the charges ‘a death tax’.

Legal professionals reported a bottleneck of applications earlier this year, as bereaved families attempted to complete Probate applications before the fee changes were applied.

We as a firm had campaigned about the increase of fees, as we saw them purely as some form of wealth tax, and the fees were not justified by the Ministry of Justice.

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