Government scraps probate fee increase

Following widespread criticism and lobbying from pressure groups, the government has now scrapped its plan to substantially increase probate fees, which will come as a welcome relief to many bereaved families. Under the current system, there are two flat rate probate fees: £215 for direct applications and £155 for applications with a solicitor. A new sliding scale of fees would have been introduced under the new system whereby estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 would be subject to a rate of £250 but estates worth over £6,000 would carry a minimum charge of £6,000. Although the smallest estates under £50,000 would have escaped the fees altogether, many estates would have paid thousands more in fees under the new system. The level of probate fees will now be reviewed annually and it remains to be seen whether the government will try and introduce an increase in fees at a later time.

The government has been rather more successful in recent years in respect of the Inheritance Tax it has received, which is now at record levels. This is partly due to the freeze in the Nil Rate Band of £325,000 for over ten years. This fiscal drag has brought many more estates into the scope of Inheritance Tax and it has been a valuable source of funds for the Treasury. Despite the freeze in the nil rate band there are many opportunities for people to mitigate their Inheritance Tax but taxpayers are often unaware of the tax saving opportunities available. Some of these opportunities are investment driven and as a multi-service firm Wilton is well placed to offer clients bespoke Inheritance Tax mitigation advice.