A House of Lords committee has reiterated concerns that government proposals to increase probate fees are a “stealth tax” after concerns were raised that changes to the fees system could cost charities £10m a year in legacy income.
Earlier this month, Lucy Frazer, the justice minister, announced that the government was revising its previous proposals for reforming probate fees and would push ahead with removing the existing flat-rate fee of £215. Instead, probate fee bands would be brought in, Frazer said, with estates of more than £50,000 paying between £250 and £6,000, with the maximum amount reserved for estates worth more than £2m. But a report by the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, published today, says the government’s proposals “bear no relation to recovering the actual cost of providing the service” and “represents a significant move away from the principle that fees for a public service should recover the cost of providing it and no more”.
The Lords report also highlights that, despite the government’s proposed increases to probate fees, it has issued a separate statutory instrument to introduce an online application process for processing a grant of probate, which will cause the administrative cost per application to fall to only £9.30. One to watch.