New probate fees were not assessed by the government before being introduced

Although the government has put plans in place to increase probate administering fees, it has been discovered that no assessments have actually been carried out by government officials on how high-value estates will be affected.

Laurence Robertson, Conservative MP, originally questioned Lucy Frazer, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), in regards to whether assessments had been done on application administering fees for probate for estates worth £5,000, £50,000 and £2 million. Frazer responded negatively to this, stating that no specific assessments had been made for how much it would cost HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to administer applications.

Frazer admitted that the MoJ had not made any specific assessments, stating: “Whilst current probate fees are determined based on an assessment of unit costing at a service level, the Ministry of Justice has not made any assessment specifically on the costs to HMCTS of administering an application for probate for estates of £5,000, £50,000 or £2 million.”

The government plans to increase probate fees for larger estates based on a sliding scale, increasing the current flat fee – of £215 – based on the size of the estate. Estates worth under £50,000 will not be required to pay anything under the new scheme, while estates worth over £2 million are expected to fork out £6,000.

An expert in the industry has said: “It’s disappointing that the government is pushing forward this stealth tax for probate fees. The process to obtain a grant of representation is not likely to require the probate registry to do any additional work or require extra resources, and it’s clear that the MoJ has made limited consideration on how this will work in practice.”

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