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Planned increase to probate fees shelved due to general election

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Controversial plans to raise the legal fees payable after death are now to be shelved ahead of the general election.

Probate court fees are paid to the government when someone dies and the personal representative of the estate needs a grant of representation.

The fees had been due to rise in May 2017. Currently, there is a flat fee of either £155 or £215 per application for a grant, depending on whether or not the application is made through a solicitor. Under the proposed changes, this system would have been replaced by a sliding fee scale linked to the value of the estate, which had been expected to reach up to £20,000 for some estates in England and Wales. For reference, our article in March explains the sliding scale probate court fees that had been proposed.

However, this morning, the Ministry of Justice has stated that there is not enough time for the legislation to go through Parliament. The Conservative party has not yet commented on whether the scheme will be brought back if the party is re-elected.

Lee Young is the Head of our Wills & Tax Team, advising on all aspects of wills, powers of attorney and estates. He says “Estates worth more than £50,000 and up to £300,000 would have given rise to a fee of £300. At the top end of the scale, for estates valued at over £2million, the probate court fee would have been £20,000. While not many estates are in that top bracket, thousands of people in the Dorset area would have faced sharp jumps in probate court costs as a result of this change.”

Under the new system, the threshold below which no fee was payable would also have increased from £5,000 to £50,000. This would have lifted an estimated additional 25,000 estates per year out of the requirement to pay a probate court fee.

Our Wills & Tax Team, based in Christchurch, also covers Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. If you have any questions, you only have to ask us at Frettens. Please call 01202 499255 and Lee or his team, will be happy to chat about your situation and your particular requirements.