Latimer Hinks has welcomed a move by Theresa May to suspend controversial changes to probate application fees and is calling for a commitment to retain the current fee structure.
Obtaining a Grant of Probate, or letters of administration if there is no will, is the process by which Personal Representatives secure the authority to deal with the property, investments and money of someone who has died.
The proposed changes have been postponed thanks to the announcement of a snap election, meaning there is not enough time for the legislation to pass through Parliament. The changes, which would have come into force from May 2017, would have seen an increase in fees on a banded scale to a maximum of £20,000.
The current, cheaper probate application fees of £215 for private applications, or £155 when carried out by a solicitor, will remain in place at least until after the General Election.
Latimer Hinks now wants to see a commitment from the Ministry of Justice that the changes will not be reintroduced by the next Government.
The Darlington-based law firm had previously warned that the changes would potentially hit the rural communities of the North East hardest. At the time Latimer Hinks’ Chief Executive, Anne Elliott, said that the fees were a form of taxation in all but name and questioned the rationale behind the changes, saying that “ultimately the service delivered by the Probate Registry is the same whether it is an estate valued at £10,000 or £1million.”
Natalie Palmer, a Director at Latimer Hinks is also a regional co-ordinator for Solicitors for the Elderly, which campaigned for the changes to be overturned. She said: “I’m pleased to hear that the proposed changes to probate application fees have been dropped. It was evident from the initial proposal that the changes were a backdoor tax on the bereaved.co-ordinator for Solicitors for the Elderly, which campaigned for the changes to be overturned. She said: “I’m pleased to hear that the proposed changes to probate application fees have been dropped. It was evident from the initial proposal that the changes were a backdoor tax on the bereaved.
“The Government wanted to charge people up to £20,000, which would have been an increase of more than 13,000 percent, and would have unfairly hit the many ‘asset-rich-cash-poor’ households in the North East rural community.percent, and would have unfairly hit the many ‘asset-rich-cash-poor’ households in the North East rural community.
“Latimer Hinks had a number of enquiries from older people who were worried about how the fees could affect their families, so I’m sure that this news will reassure them.
“The scrapping of the changes does not mean that we have won the war. To prevent changes being introduced in the next parliament we must ensure that politicians from all sides recognise that public opinion is against charging grieving families a premium for making an application for probate.”
Latimer Hinks solicitors, based in Darlington, has a team of around 50 people serving private and corporate clients. Their range of expertise and services covers legal issues surrounding commercial, residential and agricultural property, wills and lasting powers of attorney, trusts, probate, long-term care, tax planning, commercial law, alternative and renewable energy, employment, and land-owning.
Latimer Hinks is listed in the legal directory Chambers UK as a “well-respected regional practice which advises on a number of specialist agricultural areas of law” and as a “widely recognised and well-known specialist practice” and “able to provide expertise in partnership agreements, inheritance tax and succession planning issues, mine and mineral rights and renewable energy projects”. It has also won a Northern Law Award winners for private client work and also shortlisted in this 2017’s Inside Media awards.