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UK Ministry of Justice Proposed Increase in Probate Fees Scrapped
- Posted by: curtislegalwp
- Category: News
UK Ministry of Justice Proposed Increase in Probate Fees Scrapped by Government
Some people may be wondering why they haven’t heard any more about the proposed rise in probate fees which was part of the Government’s plans to increase revenue for the Ministry of Justice by £185m annually. This should have taken place last April but the Brexit impasse appears to have held up the decision. Just recently, the British government has said it will no longer increase the controversial fees as the rise was expected to hit the wealthiest the most. They would have been expected to pay nearly £6,000 in order to gain legal control of a deceased family member’s estate.
The changes, which were proposed in November 2018, should have replaced the present flat fee, which is £215, levied on estates worth more than £5,000, with charges that would be based on a sliding scale depending on the estate’s size. The cost of applying for probate through a solicitor stands at £155.
What has now been dropped is the proposed six-band charge which would have affected anyone with an estate valued at £2m. The maximum fee that was proposed would have been £6,000, a massive increase on the current flat fee. Amongst other proposals was a proposal to increase the probate charge threshold from £5,000 to £50,000. This would have meant 25,000 estates annually would have been exempt from paying any probate fees at all. This might have relieved some families of the fee, but every year up to 280,000 families would have been faced with higher charges proposed on what would have been a new assessment system.
The Ministry of Justice loses out on the Government’s decision
Because the Ministry of Justice would have benefited by £185m from the proposed increase in 2022/23, it now intends to review not only probate fees but other fees it charges for proceedings that take place in family and civil courts. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice says the funds are needed if they are to maintain the high status of the court system. It is now to assess their fees so that any changes are fair.
Opposition to changes was widespread
When the Government published its proposals for the probate fee increase, this was widely reported and commented on by the tabloids. Some labelled the proposed new charges as a “death tax.” It seems that some panicked bereaved families began en masse to complete their probate documents before the proposed increase was to become law. The onslaught was so bad that legal professionals did not have the resources to deal with the applications quickly enough so a bottleneck was created.
STEP, the professional body for trust and inheritance advisers, was pleased with the outcome as it saw it as unfair to penalise bereaved families who have no choice but to pay probate fees so they can get closure on lost family members’ estates. The organisation has been a key figure in the last few months because it has highlighted the unfairness of the proposed fee hikes.