Today, the Government have confirmed that the planned changes to probate fees, expected to be introduced in May, have been placed on hold, at least until after the general election and the next Government.
The Ministry of Justice have said that there is not sufficient time for the legislation to pass through parliament ahead of its closure prior to the election.
The proposed changes meant that, although estates worth less than £50,000 would be exempt from paying any fees, those estates valued at more than £50,000 would face significantly increased fees, up to the sum of £20,000 as opposed to the current fixed rate of £215 (or £155 for those applying via a professional body).
Pitched by the MoJ as a ‘fee’ and not a ‘tax’ the proposals would follow a passage through parliament that avoids the level of scrutiny imposed on tax changes and it has now even gone on to admit that it does not know the true cost to the public purse of processing probate.
From the beginning, the MoJ’s plans have faced strong opposition from accountants, law firms and individuals alike. A committee of MP’s objected too, accusing the MoJ of acting outside of its remit and stating that the charges had all the ‘hallmarks of taxes’ and were wholly ‘disproportionate’ when compared with the service provided by The Probate Registry.
Despite such opposition, the MoJ appeared not to be phased and remained intent on implementing the changes.
Government officials will not confirm whether the ‘death tax’ has been scrapped for good, purporting it to be an issue for the next Government to deal with.
As Director of Probate here at GH Probate Ltd. I have followed this story in utter disbelief. I, as I’m sure many others will too, welcome this move. The proposed increases were quite clearly unreasonable and extremely excessive. Following this news, we can only hope that the Government will take on board the hugely negative response received during the consultation period.
We will monitor this closely and be sure to report on any further updates.
To find out more about our Probate services, click here.
GH Probate is the trading style of GH Probate Limited. Registered in England and Wales number 9630102. Registered Office: St George’s House, George Street, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE29 3GH.
Authorised to carry out the reserved legal activity of non-contentious probate in England and Wales by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales