The Ministry of Justice has just announced that controversial plans to increase probate fees have been abandoned.

The new scheme was set to come into effect earlier this year but with much of parliament’s time being taken up by Brexit debates and now a December election, it has been dropped. Instead, it has been said that a review of the existing system will be carried out.

 

What are probate fees?

If a loved one dies, you may be responsible for sorting out their property, money and possessions. As well as determining who gets what, you need to gather any assets (such as money left in bank accounts), pay outstanding bills and distribute what’s left according to the will. This process is known as probate.

In order to do this lawfully, you need what’s known as a grant of representation. This proves your authority to administer the estate. If there is a will and an executor was appointed, that person or people will need to get a grant of probate.

Families in England and Wales currently pay a flat fee of up to £215 to obtain the grant of probate needed in order to administer estates worth more than £5,000. The new system which was due to come into effect on 1 April 2019, would have seen fees set on a sliding scale based on the value of the estate.

This would mean that for estates worth less than £300,000, there would be a minimum probate fee of £250. For those valued at more than £1 million, the minimum probate fee would have been £4,000 and for properties worth more than £2m, a £6,000 fee would have been due.

Speaking about the decision to abandon plans to increase probate fees, a spokeswoman from the Ministry of Justice commented:

“While [probate] fees are necessary to fund our world-leading courts system, they must be fair and proportionate. We will withdraw these proposals, and keep the current system while we take a closer look at these court fees as part of our annual wider review.”

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