What is Probate and what are the planned fee changes?

Proposed Probate Changes

Proposed changes to fees for this service, that many are claiming to be a stealth death tax, are due to kick in from May 2017, despite a parliamentary committee questioning the legality of the changes and warning that they may be challenged in court.

As reported by My Estate Planning Expert last week, court backlogs mean that many families of people who have died this year may have to pay the new rate.

The site, guided by our legal professionals, advised that if you have a family member who has died recently, or dies before May 1st, and you have not received your inheritance tax form from HMRC (or do not), to submit everything but the inheritance tax form before May, and make a note that you will send it separately afterwards. You will then be able to pay the current fee.

Radio 4 Money Box Programme on Probate Charges

As reported in Radio 4's Money Box, the charges, which vary from £0 to £20,000 according to the size of the estate (see figure 1), are for court administrative fees that the Bar Council estimate to cost just £166 per estate, and which amount to one single piece of paper. It is perhaps not surprising that the programme makers could not find an expert spokesperson to defend these changes.

 With so many clients asking us over the last week what it is that they are paying for, we thought we’d share this video from Which? Whilst the fees quoted in this video are due to change, unless the Government does a u-turn, the probate process is not.

 We are also sharing this online petition, which, if it receives 100,000 signatures, will force the issue of probate fee increases to be debated in parliament ...