Proposed New Probate Fees

The UK Government has announced to escalate the probate fees from April 2019. Families may end up paying up to £6000 to execute the will of closed relatives. This higher fee will affect almost 300,00 families each year. However, the Government is expecting to raise £145m in its first year.

Grants of probate

When a person dies, someone from the deceased’s family must administer the estate. If the deceased left a will and appointed an executor, the person will need to apply for ‘grant of probate’. In the absence of a will, the next to kin must apply for ‘grant of letters of administration’.

The grant of probate will prove the authority to administer the deceased’s estate. Probate fees are payable upfront for the application of grant of probate. At present, probate applications by solicitors incurs a fee of £155 and probate applications by individual attracts a fee of £215. These two are the flat fees for any grant of probate application. The fees are currently chargeable only if the estate worth is £5000 or more.

The Proposed new fees:

The proposed fees will be implemented from April 2019. Please note that the changes will only apply to England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland have different probate fees.  The Minister of Justice said that it plans to publish guidance on ways to pay the fees. The aim is to introduce a sliding scale of fees depending on the value of the deceased’s estate. The following table shows the proposed probate fees:

Estate Value Proposed Probate fees Amount Increased
£50,000 to £300,000 £250 £35
£300,000-£500,000 £750 £535
£500,000 and £1m £2500 £2285
£1m and £1.6m £4,000 £3785
£1.6m and £2m £5,000 £4785
Over £2m £6,000 £5785

 

How the proposed fees are justified:

Now the question comes how the Government is justifying the new fees. The junior justice minister, Lucy Frazer, stated that the new fees will uphold the governments’ commitment to ‘’protecting access to justice by ensuring we have a properly funded and resourced courts system.’’ This statement certainly draws several arguments. Firstly, it’s not the duty of the bereaved families to endow the court system. Secondly, the court is supposed to be funded by general taxation, not by the probate fees. The same concern has been expressed by the Law Society and it has urged to take action against the ‘’probate stealth tax’’.

 

What are the arguments against it:

The hike in probate fees has already been subject to criticisms. Firstly, there is no justified reason to introduce a banded system. The Ministers have admitted that the amount of time and cost for granting the probate is identical for any given estate.  Hence, it seems unethical to charge additional fees because of the value of the estate.

Secondly, the fees are payable upfront. We can imagine the hardship of the executors to fund the escalated probate fees. Borrowing could be an option; but the executors may find it lengthy or not interested at all to borrow the funds.

Thirdly, the concerned individuals may take risky measures by renouncing some or all control over the estate. This may lead to a situation where they would try to sidestep or reduce these considerable payments after their death.

Fourthly, the procedure to enforce the new fees has already been questioned. We believe that the hike in probate fees indisputably requires scrutiny and primary legislation is the only way to accomplish the required inspection. To our surprise, the Government is planning to soar up the fees through a ‘’Statutory Instrument’’ instead of ‘’Primary Legislation’’. This will attract less attention and scrutiny. However, we are of the opinion that it will establish a dangerous precedent as taxes can be increased without being subjected to a parliamentary vote.

Is there a bright side:

Well, the Government has planned some positive attempts to curb the probate fees. The good news is that the threshold has been lifted from £5,00 to £50,000. The Government presumes that annually £25,000 estates will be exempted out of fees altogether. Moreover, the fee is capped at no more that 0.5 percent of the value of the estate and 80 percent of estates will pay £750 or less.

NHS surcharge now doubled!

Anyone coming to the UK or residing in the UK on a visa which has a duration of more than 6 months can access NHS services in the same way as British citizens if they pay the NHS surcharge.

Initially introduced in 2015, the NHS surcharge has now been doubled from £200 to £400 per year since 8th January 2019. Students will have a discounted rate of £300 per year.
Therefore, anyone making an application to enter or remain in the UK will need to be aware of and make provision for this increase in the cost of making an application.

EEA nationals and migrants with Indefinite Leave to Remain are not required to pay the NHS surcharge and will therefore not be affected. Visitors are also not required to pay the surcharge as they are charged at the time of treatment by the NHS.

If you wish for further advice on the NHS surcharge or any other immigration matter, then please do not hesitate to contact Ami Dhanjee at G&D Solicitors on ami.dhanjee@gdsolciitors.com or 0208 424 8125

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you may need a notary for the followings:
• Prepare and authenticate powers of attorney for use overseas
• Deal with purchase or sale of land and property abroad
• Authenticate documents for immigration or emigration purposes, or to apply to marry or to work abroad, including authentication of professional and educational qualifications and preparation of capacity to marry via statutory declaration or oath
• Authenticate company and business documents and transactions for foreign contracts or the formation of foreign subsidiary companies
• Deal with documents relating to foreign wills and estate administration.

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Welcome message

G&D Solicitors are pleased to welcome their new Immigration specialist; Ami Dhanjee to the team. Ami has vast experience in dealing with immigration matters such as spouse visas, long residence applications, EEA applications, Tier 2 visas, Tier 1 visas, nationality applications and more.

If you need assistance with any immigration matter then please do not hesitate to contact Ami on 020 8424 8125 or ami.dhanjee@gdsolicitors.london

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