The changes, which would have replaced the existing fixed fees structure, were due to come into force in May once the relevant legislation had been approved by Parliament. However, following the decision of the House of Commons to agree to an early General Election on 8th June, the Ministry of Justice announced that the changes would be shelved. The reason provided was a lack of Parliamentary time to approve the legislation before the end of the Parliamentary session, and subsequent dissolution in early May.
Under the proposed new system, any estate over £50,000 would have been subject to Probate fees. Currently, the fee is £155 if a solicitor makes the application or £215 if made by an individual. The new structure would have seen a sliding scale introduced with the lowest fee being £300 for estates worth £50,000 to £300,000. The fees then rose sharply according to the value of the estate, with charges of £20,000 for those estates worth £2 million or more. The changes were opposed by the legal profession, who argued they amounted to another death tax, as probate is required to carry most of the administration tasks required to wind up an estate. There were also doubts as to whether the proposed fee increase was within the Government’s powers, leaving them open to potential court challenges.
Whether or not these proposals are resurrected in the future will be a decision for the new Government after the election.