AdminLooking ahead in 2019 – Important Changes and Dates for Estate Planners

We’re now a couple of weeks into 2019 and have hopefully cleared any Christmas holiday backlogs, so now is a good time to look ahead at what’s to come over the course of the next year. Below is an overview of events to look out for:

Probate Fee Changes

It is expected that the new branded structure for probate fees will come into force in April.

Currently a flat fee of £215 is payable, or £155 if an application is made through a solicitor. No fee is payable if the estate is below £5000.

Under the new rules, which would come into force from April, no fee will be payable on estates below £50,000. A fee is however payable for estates over this, the exact fee will then depend on the value of the estate before inheritance tax is payable.

Fees will never be more than 0.5% of the estate’s value. The minimum fee is £250, and the maximum fee is £6000 for estates over two million. This is lower than the £20,000 maximum fee planned last year.

Organ Donation – Opt-Out

The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill is currently at the Committee stage with the House of Lords. If the bill is made law in its current form, an opt-out model of organ donation will be implemented in England. Wales and Scotland already have opt-out models.

Under the current law in England, a person must opt-in to donate their organs by adding their details to the NHS Organ Donor Register. Under the opt-out system however, everyone is presumed to be an organ donor unless they opt out during their lifetime by adding their details to the Donor Register.

The Bill also includes a safeguard that would allow loved ones of a deceased person to make known any unregistered objection to organ donation that the deceased had, known as the ‘soft opt-in’.

If the Bill is passed this year, it is expected that the new system will be in place by April 2020.

Office of Tax Simplification – Second Inheritance Tax Report

Last year, the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) was asked by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to conduct a review into Inheritance Tax (IHT) in order to simplify the system and ensure it was fit for purpose. Their call for evidence received a record amount of responses from both professionals and members of the public.

The OTS’s findings are being published in two reports. The first report, covering administrative concerns, was published at the end of November 2018, and the second scheduled for publication in Spring 2019 which will cover other wider technical areas of concern.

After the second report is released, the Chancellor will respond to both reports.

Law Commission Report

On 13 July 2017, the Law Commission published a consultation paper on the law surrounding Wills. The consultation includes various comments, recommendations and areas for discussion. A brief summary of the main provisions of the consultation paper are covered by a previous article. The consultation closed on 10 November 2017.

A date has not yet been provided for their final report, we are however expecting a report by the end of the year.

Society of Will Writers 25th Anniversary

The Society of Will Writers will celebrate its 25th Anniversary on 14 April this year.

Chris Rattigan-Smith