By Sian Rae Solicitor
The proposed increase in probate fees has been put on hold due to the recent turmoil in parliament. It’s not clear if or when the increases will take effect.
Currently there is a flat fee of £215, or £155 if a solicitor is involved. The government had planned to introduce a banded system that caps the fee at 0.5% of the value of the estate, up to a maximum of £6,000. The threshold at which estates are exempt from the fee would rise from £5,000 to £50,000.
The government said the increase in the exemption threshold means that 25,000 estates will no longer have to pay a fee, and around 80% of estates will pay £750 or less.
The increased fees were controversial, but the Ministry of Justice insisted they were fair and were needed to pay for the rising costs of administering the courts system.
The motion to approve the changes had been scheduled for a vote in the House of Commons since February. However, the prorogation of Parliament means that the motion has lapsed and the government will need to reintroduce it in the next session if it still wants to go ahead.
The fact that there is an election looming confuses the situation even further.
The Law Society has welcomed the lapse as it considered the proposed increase to be unfair and unjustified. Society president Simon Davis said: “Not only would these charges have been excessive but they could have caused significant cash flow issues for the bereaved.
“The cost to the courts does not change whether an estate is worth £50,000 or £2 million. Asking larger estates to pay more would have upped the level of inheritance tax by the back door.
“Should the order be reintroduced, we will continue to campaign against its introduction. This is a tax on grief.”
If you would like more information about the issues raised in this article please call today and speak to Sian in our wills, probate & inheritance team on 01228 514077