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Death and taxes

Sometimes the two get combined which is what inheritance tax is all about.

But now the government is seeking to add another charge. Millions of people across the UK face a large rise in fees payable after death, apparently specifically to raise money for the courts service. The Ministry of Justice wants an increase in probate fees to as much as £20,000 for those with the larger estates.

From what? Well at the moment the fees are fixed at either £155 or £215.

Grant of probate gives executors the right to distribute the proceeds of someone's will. Under the new proposals, most people will pay less. Currently the fee is chargeable on any estate worth more than £5,000. This threshold will rise to £50,000, meaning that 57% of estates will pay nothing. But remember the government's own figures from the Land Registry showed that the latest average house price is nearly £190,000.

However, anyone with an estate worth more than £50,000 will pay considerably more. And remember the government's own figures from the Land Registry showed that the latest average house price is nearly £190,000.

The proposal in full:

Less than £50,000   £0 
£50,000 to £300,000  £300
£300,000 to £500,000  £1000
£500,000 to £1m  £4,000
£1m to £1.6m  £8,000
£1.6m to £2m  £12,000
Above £2m  £20,000

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "Court fees are never popular but they are necessary. We have got to make sure our courts and tribunals are properly funded at the same time as cutting the budget deficit."

The government will consult on the proposals between now and April. So tell'em what you think!?

By Mark Bogard

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