The government has resurrected plans which were dropped ahead of the 2017 general election for a sharp hike in probate fees on bigger estates.

A sliding scale based on the value of the estate will replace the current flat rates, but the wealthiest estates will pay 70 per cent less than originally planned after last year’s outcry over a new ‘stealth tax’ persuaded ministers to reconsider.

At present the fee for probate is a flat £215 for individuals and £155 for those applying through a solicitor. Estates valued at under £5,000 are exempted.

In a written statement, justice minister Lucy Frazer said that under a new banded structure the maximum fee will be £6,000, payable on estates worth more than £2m. This is a 70 per cent reduction on the £20,000 cap planned for this category in 2017.