A committee of MPs will meet today to consider measures to raise probate fees from the current flat fee of £215 (or £155 if applying through a solicitor) to a sliding scale of up to £6,000 for estates worth £2 million.The proposals have been heavily criticised by the House of Lords as a tax hike through the back door, given that the cost to courts of granting probate is the same whether the estate is worth £50,000 or £5 million.

Estates will need to meet the fees upfront, leading the Institute for Family Business, among other professional and consumer organisations, to urge the government to reconsider, stating:

"This new system presumes estates will have immediate access to significant amounts of cash. That flawed assumption could drive bereaved families into making decisions about the future ownership of a business their family may have owned for generations, solely in order to meet a short term need for cash to pay the fee. This would be to the detriment of the family, their employees and community."

The changes are due to come into effect in April, although no definite date has been set. A spike in probate applications is expected before then.If you are an Executor of an estate and have been putting off applying for probate, please speak to our team to see how we can help you get your application in before the deadline and avoid paying thousands of pounds extra in fees.