Govt halts probate fees increase amid election pressure

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The controversial planned increase to probate fees will now be a matter for the new Government, as the Ministry of Justice says there is no time to complete the change before the snap election.

It was proposed the flat rate probate fee of £215, or £155 if using a solicitor, would change to a tiered model based on assets.

The change would mean lower value estates would be exempt from any charge, but the charge on estates that exceed £50,000 would increase.

However, a Ministry of Justice spokeswoman has confirmed that because of the snap election – due to be held on 8 June – the statutory instrument on raising probate fees will not have time to complete its passage through parliament.

She says: “This will now be a matter for the new Government.”

Old Mutual Wealth tax and financial planning expert Gordon Andrews says this marks the second U-turn from the Government since the spring Budget, following Chancellor Philip Hammond’s change of heart on national insurance contributions from self-employed workers.

Andrews says: ““The opposition could view this as another tax break on the wealthy, since the proposal on probate fees stepped up depending on the value of the estate on death.”

He adds: “Regardless of what happens now, the current Conservative Government has drawn a line in the sand and has to some extent shown its hand – whilst these proposals have been shelved for now it will be interesting to see if the changes to probate fees are revisited after the election.”