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Threat of £6,000 probate fees hike removed

14th October 2019

The Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has abolished the controversial planned increase in probate fees introduced by Theresa May and set to come into effect next year, with around 300,000 families a year expected to be hit with the additional cost.

The Government has decided to abolish the planned increase, claiming the rise was not ‘fair and proportionate’. Families currently pay a flat fee for probate of as little as £215 for individuals to secure legal control of a deceased person’s estate.

The proposed new system was designed for the charge to reflect the value of the estate, with around 56,000 families expected to face bills of between £2,500 and £6,000, which would have raised about £185 million a year for the Justice Ministry.

Sarah Nash, Head of the Wills, Probate and Trusts team at Ansons Solicitors commented:

“It is a welcome decision for grieving families dealing with the estates of loved ones, already having to cope with significant delays in grants being issued thanks to the implementation of a new computer system at the Probate Registry.

The system is creaking, following a rush of applications since the increase to fees was announced and this news will help reduce the pressure.

Beneficiaries of the largest estates were facing an increased fee of £6,000 (currently only £155 if you use a Solicitor), even though the work needed to issue a grant of probate is essentially the same, irrespective of the value of the estate – the move never made sense.

We now await the government’s proposals for changes to Inheritance Tax (IHT). The Chancellor indicated at the recent Conservative Party Conference that he was considering scrapping IHT and recent news reports have suggested the government could consider replacing it with a new form of Capital Gains Tax, like the system in Australia.

The budget on the 6th November, the first after the 31st October Brexit deadline, could be the opportunity for the Government to announce a review and the intention to reform IHT – we wait with interest.”

The Justice Ministry has ordered a wider review of court fees, which is expected to start within weeks and report in months. The Ministry is reporting any changes will only involve ‘small adjustments’ needed to cover rising court costs.

If you would like any further information or advice please contact Sarah Nash on 01543 267981 or snash@ansonssolicitors.com