Thursday, 25 February 2016

Probate fee increases: a death tax by any other name?

Probate fees do not, on the whole, cause much consternation.   After someone dies, an application to the Probate Registry is often needed to obtain a grant – proof acceptable to English financial institutions that they can safely pay over the deceased’s assets to the personal representatives (PRs) named on the grant.  This exercise, one of the few occasions when PRs can swear at a lawyer without anyone getting upset (swearing the oath), is usually fairly straightforward and the application to the Probate Registry for the grant currently costs £155 if done through a solicitor.  However, in its recently published consultation, the Government states that it would like to raise probate fees to £20,000 for some estates.  Yes, £20,000 just to get the grant!  No wonder some quarters of the press have dubbed this another death tax. 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Best Will for…..providing for minor children

Parents, in particular, face a bewildering choice of structure options when it comes to making provision for their children in their Wills.  Often the prospect of their child inheriting a large sum of money at age 18 does not appeal.  Instead, being able to delay a child taking control of their inheritance until age 21 or 25, or later, or arranging for a series of staggered payments over the years is preferred.  However, the tax consequences of the various options are not always explained and parents can end up making inappropriate choices.