Election stops introduction of probate fees rise

Probate fees: Planned increase scrapped ahead of election

The application for a grant of probate costs £155 or £215 - paid to the Government - for estates with a value of at least £5,000.

However, the ministry has confirmed that the relevant statutory instrument (SI), a form of legislation that allows a parliamentary act to be made or altered without a vote by MPs, would not be completed before the election.

A senior Conservative declined to say if the scheme would be brought back if the prime minister was re-elected.

Probate fees, which are the charges paid to the government when someone dies and the executor of their estate gathers their assets to distribute to beneficiaries of a will, had been due to rise to up to £20,000 for some estates in England and Wales from May.

Probate fees, which are now as low as £155 for solicitors, would have risen by more than 100 times for the largest estates.

Estates below £50,000 would pay nothing at all, but all estates worth more would be forced to pay increased fees.

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Under the new system a sliding scale will be introduced with probate fees decided on the basis of the value of the estate.

The proposals also faced backlash at the Treasury Select Committee's hearing on the upcoming Finance Bill with Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at ACCA, saying that "the people who devised probate fees did not really know about tax.' While Nick Parker, deputy president at the ICAEW, branded the project as 'clearly a money raising exercise".

However, the plans have drawn much criticism since they were announced at the Budget and last month MPs on the statutory instruments committee said the changes must go through parliament.

The MoJ had said the new fees would generate an estimated £300m per annum in additional income, which it planned to use to fund other areas of the courts and tribunal service.

What many find particularly galling is that the rise is going ahead despite the fact that the vast majority of respondents to a consultation on the rise opposed it. "We will urge the next government to abandon this regressive plan". A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said the Government wanted to "introduce a fairer system".

Having said that, there was some good news in the now defunct plans.

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