Controversial plans which would have lifted the cap on probate fees and could have seen them increase to up to £20,000 from a modest £155 have been put on hold, as the Ministry of Justice has said there is not enough time for the necessary legislation to go through parliament ahead of the General Election.
At present, there is a flat fee of £215 for all estates over £5,000 (or £155 for those applying through a solicitor), but it was planned to replace this with a new system of tiered charges ranging from £300-£20,000, depending on the value of the estate before inheritance tax.
Commenting on the original plans, Johnny Timpson, protection specialist at Scottish Widows, “Many executors may struggle to pay the fees, particularly in cases where estates are asset rich but cash poor, and even fairly simple estates with only a family home as the main asset could see a sharp rise in probate fee.
"Executors who are unable to access funds until grant of probate could also be faced with further administrative hurdles at a time which is already very difficult.”
He added: “The now record-high inheritance tax take (caused in part by the nil rate band not having increased since 2009 and allowances such as the marriage and annual gift allowance remaining static for more than 30 years) offer advisers the opportunity to raise the benefits of appropriate estate planning with clients."