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Ministry of Justice Proposed New Probate Fee Structure

by Published on

Stephen Robinson – Associate Solicitor – Private Client

STOP PRESS……

As of 21st April 2017, HM Government has announced that the plans to increase probate fees has been withdrawn. This is welcome news and due to the scheduling of the General Election for 8th June.  Whilst this is a reprieve we note that, dependent on the outcome of the election, the plans could be revived under the next government. Watch this space!

Parliamentary Committee Report 5th April 2017: Probate fee increase from a flat fee of £155 up to as much as £20,000, “has the hallmarks of taxes rather than fees.”

Today’s critical report from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments mirrors the position I set out in this original post last month and now asks for both houses to review.  My original article follows below however if you have any immediate concerns on this or any related topic feel free to e-mail me stephenrobinson@samuelphillips.co.uk 

When a family member or close friend dies, it is a difficult time with plenty to worry about. Someone, usually the executor named in the will, takes the responsibility of dealing with the financial side. There are often a number of hurdles, making it labour-intensive and stressful. Once the full extent of the assets and debts are established, the person taking responsibility has to apply for a ‘grant’ from the Probate Registry, which, once granted, gives that person legal authority to deal with the various assets and debts.

Further to months of consultation, the Ministry of Justice has announced plans to proceed with changes to probate fees, regardless of the opposition from many groups, including the Law Society and Samuel Phillips Law Firm.

This means that the flat rate of £155 for obtaining a grant, which applied regardless of how large the estate is, will be a thing of the past as of May 2017.

The Ministry of Justice claims that 58% of estates will fall within the exempt threshold of under £50,000. We feel that the actual number will be substantially less in reality. If there are assets of more than £50,000, fees will start at £300 and could go as high as £20,000. This is an enormous increase, which many regard as a stealth tax.

The fee changes are important to those who:

  • have recently suffered a family bereavement and need to deal with the financial side
  • are thinking about financial planning for the future, particularly when it comes to Inheritance Tax

At the time of writing, the Ministry of Justice is yet to confirm the exact date in May for the introduction of the new fee structure but it could be as early as the beginning of the month.

For those who have recently suffered a family bereavement, it can be very difficult to work out the value of an estate and it can take weeks to do so. We can help you, but it is vital to act now by contacting us, before the changes come into effect in a couple of months.

For those who are thinking about the future, we appreciate that death isn’t the most pleasant subject to talk about, but we will help you make decisions that could have a substantial financial benefit for your loved ones in the long-term.

The solicitors at Samuel Phillips Law Firm are well positioned to help you. Please do not hesitate to call us on 0191 232 8451 or text the word Law to 82010 for a confidential, no obligation quote.

Stephen Robinson

Associate Solicitor

Private Client

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