Ministry of Justice drops planned changes to probate fee system

Charity bodies calculated that moving from a flat fee to a banded system would cost charites £10m a year

The government has abandoned planned changes to the probate fee system that could have cost charities an estimated £10m a year.

In November, the Ministry of Justice announced that it planned to replace the existing flat-rate probate fee of £215 with a banded system that would result in fees on estates worth more £50,000 increasing to between £250 and £6,000.

Charities and sector bodies opposed the changes and the Institute of Legacy Management warned that the reforms could cause charities to miss out on up to £10m a year in legacy income.

But the Ministry of Justice said today it had dropped the plans.

A spokeswoman for the MoJ said: "Fees are necessary to properly fund our world-leading courts system, but we have listened carefully to concerns about changes to those charged for probate and will look at them again as part of a wider review to make sure all fees are fair and proportionate."

It is understood that the existing fee structure will be retained in the short term and it will be reviewed as part of the annual assessment of the fees charged for court proceedings.

The charity legacy consortium Remember A Charity and the Institute of Fundraising welcomed the news.

Rob Cope, director of Remember A Charity, said: "We're hugely relieved to hear that there will be no major increase in probate fees and the current structure will be retained, at least for the time-being.

"Charities large and small rely heavily on gifts in wills, worth about £3bn a year. We simply can’t afford to risk jeopardising such an important income stream or to reverse the trend for growth in legacy giving.

"We’ll continue to work closely with government to ensure the sector’s views are heard and the legacy environment is protected. This includes ensuring that concerns about the prolonged delays to probate are addressed and the sector keep informed."

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