Government puts ‘unlawful’ probate fee increase on hold
The government has dropped plans to dramatically increase probate fees before the election, raising the possibility that the proposals could be dropped altogether.
Probate is the Court document that is required after a person has died to enable his or her assets to be dealt with, for example, bank accounts to be closed or a house to be sold.
The controversial Ministry of Justice scheme would have increased the probate application fee from the current fixed fee of £155 (for solicitor applications) to a fee scale dependent upon the value of the estate. The fees had been due to increase in May 2017.
The full scale of proposed fee increases was:
- £300 for estates worth more than £50,000 and up to £300,000
- £1,000 for estates worth more than £300,000 and up to £500,000
- £4,000 for estates worth more than £500,000 and up to £1 million
- £8,000 for estates worth more than £1m and up to £1.6 million
- £12,000 for estates worth more than £1.6m and up to £2 million
- £20,000 for estates worth more than £2 million
The MoJ has confirmed that the statutory instrument that would have enabled the increase to go ahead without parliamentary scrutiny will not be passed before the election, so the proposal is on hold.
It will be up to the next government to decide whether to push through the new fee scale, which had already been subject to widespread criticism as a new ‘death tax’ and described as unlawful by a parliamentary committee.