What does a snap election mean for the wills and probate industry?

This week Theresa May, the Prime Minister, announced that she would be seeking a general election on 8th June.

This could be significant for the Government’s controversial planned changes to probate fees, which have been slammed as a ‘death tax’. The plans are part of the Finance Bill, which is currently making its way through parliament.

If the Government wants to get the Bill passed into legislation before the country goes to the polls in six weeks, then it will need to find agreement – and fast. That may mean watering down its current proposals to implement new charges based on the size of an estate, which would see those with the largest estates paying £20,000 in fees.

While Brexit will inevitably dominate the theme of the campaigns, it is likely that social care will also play a significant role. All of the major parties agree that there is a funding issue to tackle, though exactly how to do that remains unclear. According to Age UK, there are currently 1.2 million people living with an unmet care need currently, while Andrew Dilnot, who chaired the Dilnot commission on funding and social care and support, recently called for the pension triple lock to be adjusted to include social care.

Speaking immediately after Mrs May’s announcement, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, said: “I am very happy, very happy indeed, that the first speech I make towards the General Election on June 8 is about the needs of social care and the needs for social care within our society. Because if there’s anything that represents a clear difference between us and the Tory government it’s this.

“Social care is at breaking point. Those most in need, elderly, disabled, those who have learning difficulties and need support and often unable to get the care that we, as a civilised society, must and will deliver for all of them.”

Others have suggested that the snap election will throw current pension reform plans into uncertainty.

Sir Steve Webb, the former pensions minister who is now director of policy at Royal London, said: “The Government has a legal duty to respond to the recently completed review of the state pension age by 7th May 2017. The prospect of an imminent election probably means an aggressive timetable with 20-somethings working into their 70s is off the table for now.

“A key question is whether the parties will have time to put detailed plans in their manifestos or whether we will get vague promises of reviews with all the detailed work done after the election.”

 

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