Surprise U-turn on probate fee hikes

2 May, 2017

Controversial proposals to hike probate fees from the beginning of this month will no longer go ahead, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has confirmed.

According to reports, the MoJ has said that there is no longer enough time to pass the new legislation through Parliament before the snap general election – which Theresa May recently announced would take place in June.

The proposed probate reforms, which attracted much criticism prior to the MoJ’s U-turn, would have seen thousands of Britons incur higher probate fees, due to a new regime which would have used ‘sliding fees’ linked to the value of each estate.

Reports suggest that estates valued anywhere between £50,000 and £300,000 would have attracted probate fees of £300, while estates worth £2m or more would have incurred fees of £20,000.

The move was initially announced in a bid to raise approximately £300m a year for the Courts and Tribunal service – but the proposals quickly attracted criticism from the media, MPs and peers.

The joint committee on statutory instruments, which is made up of predominantly peers and MPs, said that the plans had all “the hallmarks of taxes, rather than fees,” while numerous prominent newspapers dubbed the new probate regime “a stealth death tax”.

It is yet to be seen whether the MoJ will reassess the proposals once the general election has passed.

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