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Probate: ‘Death Tax’ Scrapped, New Fees Introduced

Managing the affairs of a loved one when they pass away is understandably an emotional experience for any family, and one which Milne Moser Solicitors will always endeavour to be as stress-free as possible.

Looming over the realm of probate has been a government proposal to introduce additional fees – referred to in some circles as a ‘death tax’ – which would have seen grieving families having to pay up to £6,000 for probate services.

Legal firms across the country have welcomed something of a U-turn with the proposed levy now being scrapped. However, that isn’t the end of the matter and a new flat fee of £273 for probate applications will now take effect from Wednesday 26th January, 2022.

Under present legislation, an estate which is valued at more than £5,000 by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is subject to a charge of £155 for an application made by a qualified probate practitioner such as a solicitor. For probate applications made by an individual or family without a solicitor, the fee currently stands at £215.

The new figure of £273 is seen as more reflective of actual Court fees, rather than being the proposed ‘scaled’ fee structure based upon the value of the estate in question.

Claire Maxwell is a Solicitor at Milne Moser and member of Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), an organisation for specialist solicitors who support older and vulnerable people: “The rise of £58 is obviously better than the prospect of having to potentially pay thousands, but it’s still a big enough rise for individuals applying for probate without a solicitor.”

“Money considerations aside, it can be quite an undertaking for anyone to tackle such matters by themselves and it’s perfectly understandable for people to feel overwhelmed by the formalities required in the correct administration of an estate.”

“It’s not uncommon for families to find they simply can’t dedicate the time to deal with the matters of a family member or friend when they have passed away.” Continues Claire.

“Having the mental capacity without one’s clarity of thinking being impaired by the emotional turmoil around a death is incredibly demanding for anyone, and that’s why Milne Moser Solicitors will always help you as much, or as little, as you need.”

The Milne Moser private client team combine a compassionate approach with trusted, assured legal expertise and experience to ensure the timely and smooth running of an estate from start to finish.

“It’s fully expected and perfectly understandable that the new fee may still seem attractive for some people when compared against solicitor’s fees and some people will always want to undertake this by themselves.” Adds Rebecca Laddell, Partner at Milne Moser Solicitors.

“Seeking professional advice when dealing with probate will help resolve any complex arrangements including managing the entire estate administration process, calculating the value of the assets, paying liabilities and ensuring correct distributions to beneficiaries.”

“We’ve always prided ourselves on our customer service and in probate matters this includes helping alleviate unnecessary stress and, we hope, providing peace of mind for grieving families.”

Time is of the Essence

It’s an unfortunate fact that, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic early in 2020, many bereaved families have experienced extensive delays in probate matters being processed by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMTCS).

This situation is the same is the same for both legal firms and individual applicants, with  Solicitors for the Elderly suggesting that this has “only marginally improved” and, at the start of 2022, firms who are members of SFE are still reporting an average wait of 6- to 9-weeks.

“There are understandably strong feelings amongst the legal community and other probate professionals that the service must improve as there really aren’t any justifiable reasons for these lengthy delays.” Concludes Claire.

“Given that people will be paying more under the new fees, one might reasonably expect additional resources are being recruited by HMTCS. The SFE are hopeful that we might start seeing positive changes and reductions in these excessive waiting times for bereaved families who are already enduring stress and anxiety at a difficult time.”

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