Brexit Chaos Delays Probate Fee Hike

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At last some good has come out of Brexit as the Ministry of Justice confirms a probate fee hike planned for April 1 has been shelved until further notice.

The lack of Parliamentary time due to Brexit is blamed for delay.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman explained the regulations to increase probate fees would go before MPs at ‘the earliest opportunity but Brexit preparations take precedence”.

The new rules would link probate fees to the value of a dead person’s estate instead of charging a flat £215 flat fee or £155 for an application through a solicitor.

This would see the probate charge for estates of £2 million or more rise to £6,000.

Higher fees for 280,000 families

Estimates suggest 280,000 families a year will pay higher probate fees, with just over half of them (56%) paying between £2,500 and £6,000.

The fee change is made by Parliament signing off a statutory instrument, which typically passes through uncontested.

But Labour is objecting to the fee hike, which means a debate and vote will be needed to pass the rule change.

Meanwhile, an estate planning report from over-50s financial firm Saga warns many families are paying unnecessary inheritance tax because they do not plan for the death of their loved ones.

The research highlights 63% of adults have no will and 40% of those under 50 years old have no intention of writing one.

Estate planning advice

Only 11% have taken estate planning advice, which includes writing a will, while 56% say they have no plans to do so.

Jeff Bromage, managing director at Saga Personal Finance said: “The lack of engagement and awareness surrounding estate planning and wills is worrying. Only 15% of under 50s have written a will, and while this rises to 60% of the over 50s, just 11% of the population has conducted estate planning to manage the inheritance tax levied on their estate upon death.

“With a quarter of people who plan to leave an inheritance already cutting costs in order to increase the amount of money to be left to their beneficiaries, there is a deeply concerning lack of understanding surrounding what individuals can really do to better mitigate against inheritance tax. On top of this, with the stealth death tax creeping in, beneficiaries of estates over £50,000 will be hit even harder by new tax.”

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