In 2019, the Government has continued to increase death taxes and the burden on bereaved families way ahead of actual costs. Over the last couple of years, the Government has effectively destroyed the efficiency of the previously wonderful Probate Registries because it wants to push its Digital by Default regime. That is fine for younger computer literate folk, but it should not be at the expense of the rest – and that is exactly what is happening now. You can’t get help if the staff are not there to answer phones, and very, very few people are within easy reach of Probate Registry in the much-culled network which remains.
These changes are almost all regressive – hitting older people and less computer literate people (i.e. mostly older) much harder.
1) Death Certificate cost more than triples.
From February 16th, each certificate will cost £11 – up from £4 each. Typically, families need 5 to 10 certificates for production to various authorities. Five will cost £55 instead of £20, ten £110 instead of £40.
2) The Evisceration of the Probate Service – death by Digital by Default.
Over the last few years, dozens of local Probate Registries have disappeared, making it unrealistic for the majority of the population to visit one.
Not only that, but they don’t even have enough staff to answer the phone, never mind help anyone.
Need forms – you are supposed to ring the HMRC Helpline on 0300 123 1072 and leave a message on Option 1. the number of complaints we get would indicate that either the answering machine is overloaded or no one has time to deal with it. Yes, you can get the forms online, and even fill them in online: if you have the necessary computer and computer skills, which many people do not.
And the HMRC “Help”line needs to be prosecuted under the Trades Description Act we are told. (Apparently, they don’t answer the phone very often either.)
3) Rip Off 3 – Probate Registry Fees Go Through the Roof.
When fees from Government Departments are supposed to cover costs, not be an additional source of tax, it is a little surprising to see costs rising from £215 to as much as £6,000. Interestingly, the increase does not carry on above that, so the very wealthy are far less affected than middle England. The “poor” do get a small tax break with no fee for estates under £50,000. Many of those will already have been ravaged by Community Care Tax!
Estates over £2m will now pay £6,000.
Between £1.6m and £2m the fee will be £5,000.
Between £1m and £1.6m £4,000.
Estates worth between £500,000 and £1m will pay £2,500.
Those in the £50,000 to £300,000 bracket will pay a more reasonable £250.
Those estates valued at less than £50,000 will be exempt compared with the current and lower threshold of £5,000.