Backlash against probate fees proposal

Lawyers at OGR Stock Denton have joined the chorus of criticism of plans to overhaul probate fees.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed at the end of last month that a hugely controversial overhaul of the current structure is set to be introduced in May.

The changes will mean that the largest estates will be charged as much as £20,000.

Under the current system, the fees are imposed at a flat rate of £155 if the individual is applying through a solicitor.

By contrast, the new charges will operate on a sliding scale. While this will mean that estates of less than £50,000 will be exempt, the largest will be saddled with substantial costs.

Priti Shah, Private Client Partner at OGR Stock Denton, said: “In Jersey, probate fees are linked to the value of the estate but they do not have any Inheritance Tax in Jersey.

“To impose such fees in England is like levying a disguised Inheritance Tax charge, as executors do not have a choice but to pay these fees if they have to obtain a grant of probate to administer the estate.”

Senior Associate Geoff Dennis said: “It is disappointing that the overwhelming majority of respondents who objected to the original MoJ consultation have been ignored.

“Further, this massive increase in the probate fee could present a significant obstacle for bereaved families at a difficult time if they do not have access to sufficient funds upfront to cover this.”

The Government had previously admitted that the increases are part of plans to raise an additional £250million for the Courts and Tribunals Service, but has tried to argue the change in arrangements will make for a fairer system.

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