The Ministry of Justice has scrapped its plans to overhaul probate fees, which would have seen the £215 flat-rate probate fee abolished and replaced with fee bands, which could have seen the largest estates incur charges of up to £6,000.
Dubbed a ‘stealth tax’, the Ministry of Justice expected to generate around £185 million from the increased fees by 2022-23. However, charity sector bodies had raised concerns with HMCTS and the Ministry of Justice that the planned fee increases could severely disrupt legacy giving.
Remember A Charity had warned that such a hefty price tag for wealthy individuals – many of whom leave sizable gifts to charity – could discourage legacy giving and estate planning altogether.
Speaking to The Daily Mail, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland confirmed the new fee structure had been abolished, saying:
“I have listened very carefully to the strong views aired on proposed new probate fees.
“While fees are necessary to properly 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.”
Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, said:
“We’re hugely relieved to hear that there will be no major increase to probate fees and that that the current structure will be retained, at least for the time-being. Charities large and small rely heavily on gifts in Wills. Worth around £3 billion a year, we simply can’t afford to risk jeopardising such an important income stream or to reverse the trend for growth in legacy giving.”
“We’ll continue to work closely with Government to ensure the sector’s views are heard and that the legacy environment is protected. This includes ensuring that concerns about the prolonged delays to probate are addressed and the sector keep informed.”
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