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Government to introduce ‘stealth tax’ on deceased estates

After the last failed attempt by the government to increase the fees paid by estates when applying for probate, the government is again proposing to push through what many professionals, commentators and the public alike consider to be a ‘stealth tax’ as the increase bears no relation to the service that the Court provides.

The current fees payable when making an application for probate or letters of administration – the process undertaken when a person dies to prove a Will or appoint administrators of an estate – are £155 (for applications made using a solicitor) or £215 (where the application is made directly to the Court).

Despite representations being made by MPs across parliament, the government intends to increase the fees payable by a staggering amount:

It is proposed that from April 2019, the current flat fee will change to a banded fee depending on the value of the estate:

For estates valued:
Up to £50,000 there will be no fee
£50,000 – £300,000 the fee will be £250
£300,000 – £500,000 the fee will be £750
£500,000 – £1,000,000 the fee will be £2,500
£1,000,000 – £1,600,000 the fee will be £4,000
£1,600,000 – £2,000,000 the fee will be £5,000
In excess of £2,000,000 the fee will be £6,000

The Law Society – the professional body that represents solicitors – has sought to encourage the government to think again, and has provided a tool to allow letters to be sent to MPs. That can be found here.

Although the changes need to be approved by the House of Commons, it appears that the government is attempting to use a shorter process, meaning that a full debate will not be required.

The changes are scheduled to take effect in April 2019, although no date has yet been set. Therefore, if you are dealing with an estate where a grant of probate is required then contact us today so that we can help you make the application before the changes take effect.

Contact: Damian Lines email damian.lines@rlo.law

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