Beware Stealth Death Tax On Grieving Families

08th Feb 2019 Beware Stealth Death Tax On Grieving Families

George Persson today joins the chorus of criticism that has greeted the government’s proposals to increase Probate fees. As well as being a solicitor and Partner at the firm George also heads our Wills Probate and Tax Planning team.

‘It is usually Brexit that dominates every front page but it was extremely encouraging to see at least one national newspaper this morning, the Daily Mail, take the government to task over their proposals to substantially increase Probate fees,’ says George.

‘At present, if when a person dies and they leave certain assets, such as property and/or significant cash , an application to the court may be required in order to obtain a Grant of Probate or Administration to unlock those assets and pass them on to beneficiaries’ explains George.

‘There is an application fee, which is currently set (regardless of the size of the estate) at either £215 or £155 for applications being made through a solicitor.’

‘The government’s proposal is to increase these fees up to a maximum of £6000, set by the value of the estate, and within certain bands, very similar to a tax but without it appears the same level of parliamentary scrutiny that goes with implementing taxes.’

‘However, whether an estate is worth £50,000 or £2m the work involved by the Probate court is exactly the same.’

It is estimated that once introduced, up to 280,000 families could end up paying more, and doubtless charities are going to be unhappy at any reductions they may be forced to bear in their share of gifts from a deceased estate.

‘A Law Society spokesman has stated that the changes are not in the public interest and that what is happening is no more than a tax hike through the back door,’ adds George. ‘I agree. Particularly as these fees have to be paid up front, there are going to be many families that will have to find a loan before they can even get Probate.’

This is not the first time that George has expressed disappointment at the proposed fee hike (see his Blog dated the 3rd March 2017).

‘We shall have to see what happens in the next few weeks, but unless anything radical changes government thinking this unfair and sneaky tax rise by any other name is likely to slip through and become law,’ says George. ‘Taxing already grieving families further is pretty shameful. I would hope that common sense prevails and there is an urgent re-think.’

*This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.