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Private Client Section

Government under fire for failure to check probate 'stealth tax' costs

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Government officials have not carried out any assessments on the cost of administering probate for high value estates, despite plans to introduce increased charges on them, it has emerged. 

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ), in a written response to a question from Conservative MP Laurence Robertson, said it had not made any specific assessment on the costs to HM Courts and Tribunals Service of administering an application. Robertson had asked justice minister Lucy Frazer QC whether any assessments had been carried out on the cost of administering an application for probate for estates worth £5,000, £50,000 or £2m.

The MoJ wants to hike probate fees so that they are based on a sliding scale rather than the current flat fee.

At the moment, the fee for administering probate is a flat £215 for individuals and £155 for those applying through a solicitor. The charge is the same regardless of the size of the estate. The new proposals would introduce a maximum charge of £6,000 on estates valued at over £2m. A charge of £5,000 would be levied on estates valued between £1.6m and £2m. Estates valued at £50,000 or below will not face any charge.

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