Increase to probate fees abandoned
Nov 13, 2019
It was recently announced that the government’s plans to introduce an enormous hike in probate application fees have now been dropped.
Originally the changes were due to take place in May 2017, but due to a backlash over the scale of the increases this was postponed until April 2019. Brexit then got in the way of an approval motion taking place in the House of Commons, and following months of delay the decision has now been taken to withdraw the proposal altogether.
A costly scheme
The plan had been to introduce a sliding scale of probate fees, which were dependent on the value of the deceased’s estate. Such an approach would have meant that large estates worth over £2 million would have had to pay fees of £6,000. Even those more average-sized estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 would have had to pay an extra £95, equating to a 44% increase on the current flat fee for a personal application (£215) and a 61% increase on the fee for a solicitor’s application (£155).
Why it’s been dropped
Opponents of the proposal argued that the scheme was potentially unlawful, because the charges were far higher than the cost of delivering the service. It was deemed to be a ‘stealth tax’, which would double-tax estates that were also paying inheritance tax.
The Ministry of Justice has now said that probate fees will be reviewed as part of its annual assessment of civil and family court costs and charges. A spokesman said: “Fees are necessary to properly fund our world-leading courts system, but we have listened carefully to concerns around changes to those charged for probate and will look at them again as part of a wider review to make sure all fees are fair and proportionate.”
This is very welcome news, which no doubt will come as a relief to many. Please do get in touch if you have any queries or concerns about probate fees and inheritance tax.