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Probate fees – Government’s planned increase scrapped ahead of general election

The government has scrapped controversial plans to increase probate fees saying there would not be enough time before the general election on 8 June. Thousands of people would have faced sharp jumps in probate costs as a result.

The plans would have replaced the current flat fee (£215 or £155 if using a solicitor) for applications, with a sliding scale based on the value of estates. At the lower end, 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 £2 million.

Value of estate
(before inheritance tax)
Proportion of all estates in England and WalesProposed fee
Up to 50,000 or exempt from requiring a grant of probate58%£0
Over £50,000 but does not exceed £300,00023%£300
Over £500,000 but does not exceed £1M6%£4,000
Over £1M but does not exceed £1.6M 1% £8,0001%£8,000
Over £1.6M but does not exceed £2M0.3%£12,000
Above £2M0.5%£20,000

However, the plans have drawn much criticism since they were announced at the Budget. Earlier this month a committee of MPs and peers questioned the legality of the changes which appeared to have the hallmarks of taxes rather than fees.

The government said it did not have data on the average cost of handling a probate application and that the legislation required to introduce the proposed fees would not be drawn up in time.  However, it is unclear at present whether the government will bring back the proposals in the event of success in the election.

If you would like further advice in connection with the matters raised in this article then please contact Lorna Payne in our Wills and Probate department on 01926 422 101.

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