Huge Rise In Probate Fees Scrapped By Justice Minister

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The government has scrapped a controversial move to put up probate fees that would have seen wealthy families paying thousands of pounds to administer a loved one’s estate after their death.

Instead, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland says he will carry out a review that will see a small fee adjustment to cover rising probate costs.

Under the plans, first revealed in 2016, the minimum probate fee would have increased from £215 to £250 for estates worth less than £500,000.

But for larger estates valued at more than £1 million, the fee soared to £4,000 and rose to £6,000 for estates worth more than £2 million.

Probate fees are charged in addition to inheritance tax, which starts for estates worth £325,000, although reliefs and allowances can apply to increase the nil-rate tax band.

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Plenty of objections

“While fees are necessary to properly fund our world-leading courts system, they must be fair and proportionate,” said Buckland.

“We will withdraw these proposals, and keep the current system while we take a closer look at these court fees as part of our annual wider review.”

The plan to raise probate fees has had a rough ride with plenty of objections from tax experts and lawyers.

Many, like the Law Society, complained the fees were a subsidy for the courts service and went far beyond the cost of providing a service to grieving families.

Fees are necessary

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson 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.”

Probate is the process of dealing with someone’s assets and debts in accordance with a will when they have died.

To act as an executor – the person who pays the bills and makes sure the deceased’s final wishes are obeyed – the estate must ask for a grant of probate from the government. The probate fee is paid upfront before permission to distribute assets is given.

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