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solicitors Reigate Horley

Plans to raise the legal fees payable after death are to be scrapped ahead of the general election.

Probate fees had been due to rise from £155 or £215 to up to £20,000 for some estates in England and Wales from May.

The Ministry of Justice said there was now not enough time for the legislation - dubbed a "stealth death tax" by critics - to go through Parliament.

Probate charges are paid to the government when someone dies and the executor of their estate gathers their assets to distribute to beneficiaries of a will.

Under the proposed changes, the system would have been replaced by a sliding fee scale linked to the value of the estate resulting in thousands of people facing sharp jumps in probate costs.

Estates worth more than £50,000 and up to £300,000 would have attracted fees of £300, rising to £20,000 for those valued at more than £2m.

Earlier this month, a committee of MPs and peers questioned whether the changes were legal, adding that the new charges "appear... to have the hallmarks of taxes rather than fees".