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'Death tax' will charge slammed.

GOVERNMENT plans to hike probate fees by up to 13,000% have been blasted as a death tax by a leading solicitor who acts for older people in North Wales.

Lord Chancellor Liz Truss plans to introduce the sliding scale fees, which apply to wills, on May 1 to raise PS300 million to fund the courts service.

But Shaun Hughes, of North Wales law firm Swayne Johnson, said the proposed charges were nothing less than a death tax and might even be ruled illegal.

Mr Hughes is North Wales Secretary for Solicitors For The Elderly which runs regular sessions to keep the region's law professionals abreast of the latest developments in private client work.

Currently there is a flat fee of PS155 for grants of probate if the process is handled by a solicitor and PS215 when the application is made directly by the executor. Estates where probate is required but which are worth less than PS5,000 attract no fee.

Mr Hughes said: "This is simply a death tax which the Government are introducing to help them pay for the Courts Service.

"This particular measure will raise PS300 million but it won't reflect the work that is done - applying for probate takes the same amount of time if an estate is worth the minimum of PS50,000 or if it's PS50 million.

Currently probate must be applied for on estates worth PS5,000 or more but under the new legislation those valued at more than PS50,000 will see families charged a minimum of PS300 on a sliding scale up to PS20,000 for estates worth over PS2 million.

Mr Hughes said: "A recent Freedom of Information request found that the Ministry of Justice doesn't even know the average cost of processing probate applications.

"That goes to show that these increases are nothing to do with recovering the cost."

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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Apr 20, 2017
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