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Friday, March 10, 2017

Changes to probate fees

A new inheritance tax?

Ignoring overwhelming opposition during the consultation process the government is going ahead with massive increases to probate fees

The government estimates the fee increases will deliver around £300 million in additional income per year to the courts.

Brabners solicitors commented:

The Government has published changes to probate fees which will affect people who have recently suffered a bereavement.

The changes, which come into effect on 1 May 2017, will affect all individuals inheriting an estate worth more than £50,000. Those inheriting estates worth more than £2 million will be hit by a fee increase of more than 9,000 per cent - a rise from £215 to £20,000.

You can read more on their website.

In the government's response to the consultation, they noted the main reasons respondents gave for disagreeing with the proposal (to charge a fee that is proportionate to the value of the estate) were that:

  • the size of the fee should be set according to the cost of providing the service
  • the administration involved and therefore cost to the Probate Service is the same regardless of the value of the estate; and
  • as the proposed fees would be set above cost recovery levels, they in effect amounted to a form of taxation

It is hard to disagree with this.  And a tax which applies on death is never going to be popular.

Unfortunately the government has chosen to ignore these concerns - the new charges will apply from May this year.

If you have any questions you can contact us by email or on 01704 571 777.

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