Probate fees is likely to rise from £155 or £215 to up to £20,000 for some estates in England and Wales from May. The Ministry of Justice said there was now not enough time for the legislation – dubbed a “stealth death tax” by critics – to go through Parliament. A senior Conservative declined to say if the scheme would be brought back if the prime minister was re-elected.
Probate charges are paid to the government when someone dies and the executor of their estate gathers their assets to distribute to beneficiaries of a will. Currently, there is a flat fee of either £155 or £215 per application for probate, depending on whether or not the application is made through a solicitor. There is no fee paid for estates worth under £5,000.
Estates worth more than £50,000 and up to £300,000 would have attracted fees of £300, rising to £20,000 for those valued at more than £2m. The fees had been earmarked to raise around £300m a year towards running the courts and tribunal service. 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.