Plans to overhaul probate fees have been put on ice ahead of the snap general election.
The government had planned to switch the flat-rate £215 probate application fee to a sliding scale that depended on estate size in May, but these changes have been suspended as there’s not enough time for the new rules to be approved before parliament dissolves.
The announcement is good news for the 42% of people set to deal with estates worth more than £50,000, who would have seen fees rise. For estates of £2 million or more, fees could have reached an eye-watering £20,000.
People handling estates worth between £5,000 and £50,000 will be worse off as a result, as the proposed changes would have led to their fees being waived. Estates worth less than £5,000 are not charged under the current system.
Had the changes gone ahead, probate fees would have increased as follows:
|Value of estate||Proportion of all estates in England and Wales||Proposed fee|
Could the fee hikes still go ahead?
No political party has yet been drawn on whether it intends to implement the new fees if it wins the general election. The state pension triple lock, as well as the freeze on national insurance, income tax and VAT could also come up for review.
The main parties are likely to publish details of their tax policies in early-to-mid May within their manifestos.
What is probate?
Before a deceased person’s estate can be distributed, the person administering the estate (known as the executor) needs to apply for probate. This is done through the courts, and usually costs £215. If the application is handled by a solicitor, court fees are reduced to £155, though the lawyer is likely to levy their own fees too.
Where can I get help with probate?
Around one in three people choose to carry out probate themselves. The Which? Legal Probate Service is designed to guide you through the process from start to finish. To find out more, visit the Which? Legal Probate website or call 01992 877 329.