Plans to hike probate fees to up to £6,000 have been scrapped, it has been revealed.

The changes, which had been described by experts as a “tax on grief”, were proposed by the Government last November.

Under the new system, a ‘sliding scale’ of probate fees would have replaced the current fixed fee structure of £215 – or £155 with a solicitor. For example, all estates worth less than £50,000 would have had to pay no fees at all, while fees on estates worth £2 million or more would have been supersized to up to £6,000.

However, associations against the move, such as the Law Society for England and Wales, argued that the increased fee could prevent equal access to the law.

Announcing its decision to U-turn on its proposed plans, the Government has now suggested that probate fees will be reviewed as part of the “annual assessment of charges in family and civil courts”.

Commenting on the decision, Law Society president Simon Davis said: “It is inherently unfair to expect the bereaved to fund other parts of the courts and tribunal service when they have no other option but to apply for probate.

“In its review of court fees Government should bear in mind that it is a false economy to impose charges that go beyond cost recovery. Equal access to justice is a fundamental part of the rule of law.”

The announcement comes shortly after the Government opened its new online probate pilot to all legal professionals. It is believed that the new system will significantly speed up and simplify the processing of probate and intestacy applications.

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With Mark Sharpley, executive committee member of the UK200 Legal Group, and fellow partners Jeremy Allison and Nicki Shipley at the helm of an experienced team of legal finance specialists, the Smailes Goldie Group is well positioned to offer tax and accounting advice to solicitors. Whether you are a sole practitioner or a multi-partner firm, the Smailes Goldie group has the expertise and understanding of all financial matters relating to the legal profession, including: compliance services, Solicitors’ Accounts Rule audits, preparing annual accounts, tax advice for both firms and/or partners, and advising on LLP status. For more information on any of the issues covered in this bulletin, please contact Mark Sharpley at marksharpley@smailesgoldie.co.uk.

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