Imagine one of the public bodies decided to increase the cost of their services by 75% – it might be the local Council for bin collection OR the charge you pay for respite care for an elderly or disabled family member. I might be wrong, but I would expect there would be a lot of social media and news comment to the effect of “they cannot get away with such an increase”! The Prime Minister would be asked to make a statement to parliament, or his Minister would do it for him!
However, in the context of a recently bereaved family who are tasked with handling the estate of a loved one, they can now expect to pay £273 (likely from January 2022) to receive the Grant of Probate. Such family members are “fair game” when it comes to increasing the contributions paid by “users” of Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunal Services (HMCTS).
Reading the Ministry of Justice’s proposal paper “Aligning the fees for Grants of Probate to cost recovery” it all seems so reasonable. Users of a government service, like an application for Grant of Probate, should pay the full cost of this service which is now going up in price significantly.
Where will this end?
The timing of this fee increase is (to say the least) very poorly timed given the increases in the UK death rate due to Covid 19. But then again, the Government have been trying to increase the fees for some 5 years or so and have now reluctantly decided that whatever the size of your estate the price will be the same. Quite a departure from the previous proposal to increase fees more significantly for the larger estates only but it still leaves a bad taste for many elderly clients struggling to cope after losing a loved one.
These Probate fees can be on top of a potential Inheritance Tax (IHT) charge at 40% on assets held in an estate above £325k.
In addition, the recent investigations into the escalating price of funerals (and related services) just goes to prove the adage “there is nothing certain in life – except death and taxes (and probate fees)”!
If you need help and support with any matters connected to your personal estate and Inheritance Tax planning, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org