Shelved probate fee hikes could be ‘resurrected’, charity bodies warn

A number of leading charity bodies have voiced concerns that controversial plans to introduce a new, banded system of probate fees – which were shelved ahead of the General Election – could be ‘resurrected’ in coming weeks.

Prior to the Election, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) had planned to abolish the existing £215 flat fee for probate applications in favour of a new ‘banded structure’ based on the value of estates.

The plans attracted widespread criticism over the fact that some estates would see fees increased by almost £20,000 under the proposals – which were later shelved ahead of the Election.

In recent weeks, however, charity bodies including the Charity Finance Group (CFG) have voiced concerns that the statutory instrument covering the reforms – which previously did not pass through Parliament – effectively remains ‘dormant’ and therefore could be ‘resurrected’ at any time.

Andrew O’Brien, head of policy and engagement at the Charity Finance Group, said: “It is important that the Government gives clarity on this issue and the confusion of the snap Election isn’t used to reintroduce this measure through the backdoor.

“The impact on the sector could be significant and this hasn’t been thought through by Government. It is vital that the new Minister for Civil Society is able to communicate effectively with the Ministry of Justice and protect donors and charities.”

Previously, the Institute of Legacy Management had warned that charities could potentially “lose up to £18m a year in legacy income if the reforms are introduced.”

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