21 April 2017 by

Death Tax plans abolished, for now!

As you may remember from our recent blog (10th March), the Ministry of Justice was planning to substantially increase the existing probate fees from May this year, in some cases by as much as 12,903%, causing many critics to describe them as a ‘death tax’.  The Government has, however, announced today that it will be scrapping its plans for the increases in probate fees for the time being.

In order to administer a deceased’s estate, it is normally necessary to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Representation for which the probate fees are currently a flat fee of either £155 when the application is made by a solicitor or £215 where the application is made by an individual.  The Ministry of Justice’s planned proposals had meant that for some estates, the probate fees would be increasing from £155 up to £20,000 for estates worth over £2 million.

These proposals were widely criticised, with legal professionals claiming they represented a new stealth “death tax”.  Parliament’s Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments attacked the legal basis of the Government’s new probate fees by stating that the Justice Secretary Liz Truss could be acting beyond her powers by introducing charges which “have the hallmarks of taxes rather than fees”.

Today the Ministry of Justice declared that there is not sufficient time for legislation to pass the controversial increase probate fees through Parliament due to the general election on the 8th June.

The burning question now is whether plans for the so called “death tax” will be brought back if the government is re-elected. So far neither the Government nor the conservative party have provided a definite answer.

Due to the remaining uncertainty over whether these fees will now be introduced, we recommend that if you are currently going through the probate process you should seek legal advice.

For further information about this article or estate planning, you can contact one of our solicitors in the Wealth Planning team here.

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20 April 2017 by

Professional Negligence risk for solicitors who fail to advise on “clause interpretation”

The Court of Appeal has provided a useful reminder that a solicitor must advise a client that there could be […]

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