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Probate fee increases scrapped

The Government has decided to scrap controversial plans to raise probate fees which would have seen some bereaved families pay almost £6,000 more.

Under the Government’s proposals, probate fees would have risen from the current fixed fee of £215 – or £155 with a solicitor – to a sliding scale of up to £6,000 depending on the size of the estate.

Dubbed a ‘stealth tax’ on the recently bereaved, the changes were due to come into force last April but were delayed indefinitely. The Government has now changed its position and says it will review probate fees as part of an annual assessment of family and civil court charges.

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.”

The charity sector had raised concerns that the planned fee increases could discourage legacy giving and estate planning altogether. They welcomed the announcement that the proposed changes are to be scrapped.

Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, says: “We’re hugely relieved to hear that there will be no major increase to probate fees and that the current structure will be retained, at least for the time-being. Charities large and small rely heavily on gifts in Wills. Worth around £3 billion a year, we simply can’t afford to risk jeopardising such an important income stream or to reverse the trend for growth in legacy giving.”

“We’ll continue to work closely with Government to ensure the sector’s views are heard and that the legacy environment is protected. This includes ensuring that concerns about the prolonged delays to probate are addressed and the sector keep informed.”*

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Charity Newsletter February 2020