The Government Bows to Pressure Over Probate Fees
Lack of parliamentary time and mounting pressure from probate professionals prevented the introduction of new tiered probate fees in April this year. Then, in October the Government announced that staggered fees would not be introduced at all until there had been a more detailed review.
There has been considerable pressure to abandon the complex tiered system proposed by Theresa May’s government. It had been criticised by a number of groups, including the Society of Estate and Trust Practitioners (STEP) as a stealth tax, although it was set to raise in excess of £150 million per annum for the courts.
On the one hand, the new system would have benefited 25,000 estates valued at less than £50,000. In these cases, no probate fee would have been applied but at the same time it was estimated that more than 280,000 families a year would have faced higher charges. Estates valued at over £2million would have seen a new probate fee of £6,000 applied – representing an increase of 2690% above the current flat fee of £215.
The tiered fee proposal faced widespread criticism with persuasive arguments that it would operate like a tax rather than a fee. Families have no choice about using the service (it is a necessity to deal with a deceased estate) and the probate office provides exactly the same service, regardless of the value of the estate.
For the time being the Government have shelved plans for change and the flat probate fee of £215 stands.
About the author
Guy has worked in the insurance profession for over thirty years, initially in the London Insurance market as a broker and subsequently as a Lloyd’s Members’ Agent. He set up private client insurance brokers Castleacre in 2005. Castleacre is the first company in the UK to offer indemnity insurance to lay executors – in direct response to clients who had become executors but could not find suitable cover on the market. If you have would like to know more about executor liability insurance or to contact Guy click here. If you wish to view the Executors Insurance blog click here.