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Inheritance tax exceeds £4 billion

Recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics have revealed a dramatic increase in Inheritance tax receipts by the Treasury, up nearly 20% on the previous year. The expected Inheritance tax payable for the year to 28 February 2016 is £4.6 billion compared to £3.8 billion in the previous year.

A further surprising statistic is the number of estates now having to pay Inheritance tax. Since 2010 this figure has seen a fourfold increase. This figure is itself expected to double over the next five years according to the Treasury. 

Call for Regulation of Probate Providers

Claims of fraud and over-charging

The Consumer Panel of the Legal Services Board has recommended that probate and administration services should be regulated and all providers made subject to "fit and proper checks". At the moment anyone can charge for helping to obtain probate an to administer an estate. The panel is suggesting that criminal records and bankruptcy records be checked and that the Legal Ombudsman should oversee complaints.

New Guidance for Solicitors

Law Society issues new guidelines New guidance issued by the Law Society tells solicitors that "If the estate is small or straightforward, it may not be appropriate to encourage the client to appoint you or your firm as the executor". Solicitors should only sell their services if the circumstances of the estate make a professional executor desirable. Clients must also be told that appointing non-professionals only is acceptable.

Landmark ruling awards daughter excluded from mother’s will a third of the value of the estate

Melita Jackson died in 2004 and under her will she left all of her estate to animal charities with no provision for her daughter.

The daughter, Heather Ilott was excluded as a beneficiary of the will after her mother refused to forgive her for eloping with her boyfriend at the age of 17. Mrs Ilott had applied to the Court on the grounds that her mother had not made reasonable provision for her in her will and the Court of Appeal ruled in her favour, awarding her over £160,000.

Banks review their policies

Big four banks review practices for selling will-writing and executor services.

Following discussions with the Office of Fair Trading, Barclays Bank, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and RBS Group have all voluntarily agreed to review how they sell will-writing and executor services .

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