Probate fees: Planned increase scrapped ahead of election

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The biggest estates would have faced £20,000 probate fees

Now applications for a "grant of probate" cost a flat rate of £215 each, or £155 for those made through a lawyer.

According to section 7 the 2014 act, "setting a fee in excess of the cost of anything in respect of which the fee is charged will mean a draft statutory instrument must be considered and approved by both houses of parliament". "We will urge the next government to abandon this regressive plan".

The MoJ said it wanted to replace the flat rate system with a system of bands linked to the value of the estate (before inheritance tax), and the same rate applies regardless of whether the applicant is a solicitor or an individual.

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

A controversial increase in fees on estates after death will not be brought in before the General Election, raising the prospect it could be quietly shelved. It is understood no decision has been made about whether to proceed with the rises in the event of a Conservative victory. This mattered because the government was proposing to introduce the fee without legislation.

The proposal was criticised by a cross-party committee of MPs and peers, who suggested Truss might not have the authority to introduce the charges using an SI. The joint committee on statutory instruments said the plan would "make an unexpected use of the power" connected to SIs.

According to the MoJ, higher probate fees are needed to fund the courts and tribunals service.

As the fee is unavoidable for most estates lawyers advised the new structure might actually have been illegal.

If not, this would represent the second Budget reversal since chancellor Philip Hammond scrapped plans to raise national insurance contributions paid the self-employed.

Gordon Andrews, tax and financial planning expert at Old Mutual Wealth, said: 'This leaves an even larger gap in the Exchequer, which will now have to be filled'.

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