MoJ urged to abandon probate fee rise
The Ministry of Justice is being urged to confirm the abolition of the recently halted probate fee increase.
In a letter to the editor of the Times, the Institute of Legacy Management (ILM) set out their concerns on the proposed rise in probate fees, stating that it could negatively impact charities reliant on legacy gifts and instead, have called for a fairer alternative.
Originally proposed in March, the planned changes involved introducing a sliding scale for probate fees, with the largest estates being required to pay up to £20,000. The plans were heavily criticised by the industry and described as a new form of taxation, given the disproportionality between the suggested expense and the largely administrative task of granting probate.
Although the plans were due to come into effect in May, they were put on hold in the run up to the snap general election, with the Ministry of Justice stating that there was not enough time for the legislation to pass through Parliament.
Since the election and amidst ongoing political uncertainty, the future of the changes has been unclear.
The letter from the ILM was signed by the Chief Executive, Chris Milward, along with numerous other signatories.
Published in the Times newspaper yesterday (11/07/17) the letter read:
‘Sir, When the Ministry of Justice announced in April that it would not pursue increases to probate fees, there was relief across the voluntary and legal sectors. Many opposed the changes because of their impact on charities’ income. There was concern, however, that they were put on hold only because of the election and suggestions now emerging that this may be the case are alarming.
If the changes were pushed through, probate fees would be graded according to estate value, and not as a fixed charge for a service. Critics argue that this amounts to a stealth tax.
We are concerned that new fees would significantly reduce income for charities reliant on legacy gifts — to the tune of £18 million a year — because many organisations are struggling to meet increased demand for their services.
We are calling on the Ministry of Justice to consider the significant opposition and to find a fairer alternative. We ask it to provide confirmation that the increases will not be pushed through.
Chris Millward, Chief Executive, The Institute of Legacy Management
Henry Frydenson MBE, Chairman, ACTAPS – The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists
Andrew O’Brien, Head of Policy and Engagement, Charities Finance Group
Richard Bray, Vice-Chairman, Charity Tax Group
Jonathan Eshkeri, Director, E&G Solicitors in Spain
Lucy Gill, Partner, Foot Anstey LLP
Angela Bowman, Partner and Head of Legacies, Freeths Solicitors
Ashley Rowthorn, Managing Director, Legacy Link
Alison Talbot, Head of Charities, Penningtons Manches
John Barrett, Chief Executive, Small Charities Coalition
George Hodgson, Chief Executive, STEP
Daniel P Harris, Partner, Stone King LLP
Peter Jeffreys, Partner, Wilsons Solicitors LLP’
The ILM awaits a response.