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Probate fees row gathers pace

Anger and disappointment continues to grow over the Government's decision to massively increase probate fees for most estates from May this year.

Instead of the current flat rate of £215, or £155 if applying through a solicitor, a new band of charges will be introduced meaning that the more an estate is worth, the bigger the probate fee beneficiaries will have to pay.

Executors for estates worth between £500,000 and £1 million, for example, will now have to pay £4,000 and estates valued at over £2 million will incur a charge of more than £20,000 representing a staggering 12,900 per cent increase.

Extremely disappointed

Claire Davis, director of Solicitors for the Elderly, (Wards Solicitors Probate team are either student or full members of SFE. To be a full member you have to pass the Certificate in Older Client Care in Practice Award. Jenny Pierce is the Regional Coordinator of SFE for Bristol & Bath and Ruth Coles is regional coordinator for Somerset), has added her voice to the growing number of concerns raised.

"SFE is extremely disappointed to see that the consensus to reject the proposed probate fees has been ignored," she said.

"For the 62% of estates that use a solicitor, probate registry performs a purely administrative role, and the value of the estate has no bearing on the work undertaken.

Unfair form of taxation

"To burden larger estates with a significantly larger fee is an unfair form of taxation. For people in this situation, their property is often their primary asset, and they have little cash to pay for higher probate fees, on top of other necessities such as IHT or the use of a solicitor.

"The increase in probate fees will place a burden on families at a sensitive and distressing time and is likely to put people who are vulnerable and/or elderly at risk. Our fear is that such clients might be persuaded to take steps to avoid probate fees, even if the effect is to leave them with insufficient assets to provide for themselves for the rest of their life."

A Petition has now been set up asking the Government to reconsider the rise in Probate Fees.

At 10,000 signatures, the Government will respond to the petition, at 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament

To sign the petition click here

For more information about the proposed fees take a look at our article probate fees set to soar