1. ITV Report

Planned probate fee rise scrapped ahead of General Election

Families that have lost loved ones sometimes apply for a grant of probate. Credit: PA

Plans to increase probate fees paid by bereaved families are to be scrapped ahead of the General Election.

Thousands faced a sharp rise in costs up to a maximum of £20,000 under the controversial proposals that were due to take effect next month.

The move had been condemned by critics as a "stealth death tax".

  • What is probate?

Obtaining a grant of probate is the process by which someone is given the authority to deal with the property, money and possessions of someone after they die.

It is usually sought by the executor of a will or a person acting on their behalf.

Not all estates need to go through probate, with around half of deaths leading to an application for a grant of probate in England and Wales.

  • The changes that had been proposed

Currently there is a flat probate charge of £215 or £155 if submitted by a solicitor in relation to all estates with a value of at least £5,000.

Under the changes this system would have been replaced by a sliding fee scale, depending on the estate's value.

At the lower end, 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 £2 million.

The proposed fee structure that has now been scrapped. Credit: Ministry of Justice

The new system would also have seen the threshold below which no fee is payable increase from £5,000 to £50,000.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Justice confirmed a statutory instrument on the proposed revisions will not have time to complete its passage through Parliament.

The abandoned reforms were earmarked to raise around £300 million a year towards running the courts and tribunal service.