Probate Fees Increase. Cancelled? Or Just Postponed?

Probate Fees Increase. Cancelled? Or Just Postponed?

A few of my recent Blogs have dealt with the proposed amazing increases in the fees to be charged for Grants of Probate.

At present the Government admits that the current fees (of £155 charged when a Solicitor lodges the application, or £215 when an applicant in person does so) are more than sufficient to cover the actual cost of running the Probate registry.

Nevertheless there are other areas of the Courts which are making a loss, and the idea is that probate fees should now be made to subsidise the loss making areas. And the new charge in the worst case, of a relatively wealthy couple dying together or shortly one after another, is up to £40,000.00.

Yes, I know.

Anyway, the news now of course is, there is going to be a general election.

And the Probate fees proposal, and several other tax raising initiatives, are all being postponed until after that.

I am seeing many commentators giving sighs of relief, saying what good news this is. As if the 9000 [Nine Thousand!] per cent increase has been consigned to history. Of course no such binding promise has been made.

Still I suppose, if Christmas were to be postponed until the end of January, the turkeys would feel cheered up.

As to the election, the newspapers are full of the results of the opinion polls, talking of a prospective landslide for the Conservatives.

But, was it not in November 2016, when Donald Trump became US President, and before that in UK in 2015, when the Conservatives won a majority of seats, that the papers were all running articles along the lines of – “Why were the Polls so wrong?”

You would have thought that opinion pollsters would have realised the futility of their calling, and all got other jobs, but here they are back again.

Have you ever spoken to an opinion pollster? Me neither.

So exactly whose opinions are they canvassing, and then extrapolating and publishing? At a guess, the opinions of people who are not bright or spry enough to spot a lurking opinion pollster in the street, and to cross the road to evade “thy long grey beard and glittering eye”?

We shall all know soon enough – interesting times, and it all just keeps coming.

In the meantime, a link here to a song The Future is Coming On.

And, as always, whenever you have documents to Notarise to use abroad, you can contact me or Louise here at AtkinsonNotary E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email notary@atkinsonnotary.com or via the website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com

The Latest in the Saga of Increasing Probate Fees – Perhaps The Increase Is illegal!

The latest in the saga of increasing Probate fees – perhaps the increase is illegal!

A year or so ago I wrote this Link here warning of the proposal for the worst case increase of probate fees from £430 to £40,000. Yes. Really

And then after the Government “Consultation” I wrote link here of the Government response which was in effect, “We will ignore the result of the consultation”

Now, this week the joint committee on Statutory Instruments, a cross party/cross house committee has raised the suggestion that the proposal may be illegal.

A basic principle of the British Constitution is that the Government cannot raise tax unless the measure is put before Parliament and approved. Exactly as with Brexit recently – and as the Courts confirmed – the matter has to go to Debate.

But, in the case of the Probate fees, the Government is presenting the increases as merely an upward adjustment to Court fees, and that therefore it has the right to proceed under Powers deriving from the somewhat obscure Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, 2014, section 180 – Headed, “Court and Tribunal Fees”.

Somewhat ignoring the fact that that Statute is clearly intended to deal with the Court fees for contested cases.

Yes sometimes the grant of Probate can be contested. [Fred died leaving his money to say, the RSPCA and appointing it his executor, and Fred’s wife is objecting to the Grant of Probate as part of her objection to the implementation of the terms of the Will generally]

I have not been able to find the number of annually contested applications for Probate, the statistics must be out there. My guess is, it is a relatively trivial number compared to the over 250000 grants of Probate applied for every year.

In any case, the new fees are not relating to the contested cases only. They will relate to every application.

What the Government is doing, is calling a tax increase, a “fees increase”. And then claiming that this obscure Stature gives it the right to implement it.

Basically, attempting to use the letter of the law to justify something it was never intended to justify.

We do not know whether the views of the joint committee on Statutory Instruments will be implemented. Perhaps not, perhaps the Government will succeed in pressing on regardless.

But, does its behaviour remind you of the Government’s own wording in its pamphlet highlighted in my blog earlier, link here?

That, a citizen should not seek to avoid paying tax by “Using the Law of the Country to get a Tax advantage that Parliament never intended”.

And whilst this Government is a more or less different gang from last year, it has learnt nothing from Mr Cameron’s own egg-on-face scenario, – when he was revealed to have had his own offshore investments. This, of course, after he had taken the extraordinary decision to take time out of a G20 summit to voice his disgust at that kind of scheme and specifically describing as “Morally wrong” the action of Jimmy Carr in following the advice of his accountant and doing nothing illegal whatsoever.

Jimmy Carr, as comedians will, had the last laugh. He tweeted, when Mr Cameron was revealed to have his own tax-avoiding investments abroad, that “it would be morally wrong of me to comment on another individual’s tax affairs”.

Really, it is dangerous to seek to occupy the moral high ground, because when you behave exactly as those you seek to paint as villains, some people might take the view that your sense of morality leaves something to be desired.

Indeed some people may take that view, and express disapproval in rather stronger terms. Trust is hard to win, easy to lose in a moment. Ask United Airlines.

Some music – Hypocrites

And, as always, whenever you have documents to Notarise to use abroad, you can contact me or Louise here at AtkinsonNotary E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email notary@atkinsonnotary.com or via the website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com

Affairs in Spain? Poder? Louise Explains What Our Leeds Service Offers

Affairs in Spain? Poder? Louise Explains What Our Leeds Service Offers

Spain is a very popular country for us Brits to start a new life in. There are approximately over 300,000 British ex-pats residing in Spain alone. As Notaries we get to see many individuals who have interests in Spain and one of the most common documents we assist with is a “Poder”

A Poder is the equivalent of what we call in England a “Power of Attorney”.

A Poder is a legal document which authorises a person to deal with affairs in Spain.

Usually we see clients who are wishing to purchase, sell or transfer property ownership but are unable to get to Spain to deal with the necessary legal formalities and wish to instruct their Spanish adviser to deal with such formalities on their behalf.

Sometimes the Poder is to authorise Lawyers in Spain to deal with inheritances left by a deceased relative who lived in Spain.

It is usual that the Spanish adviser will draw up the necessary Poder and email direct to us for signature of it to be made in the presence of a Notary Public. It is the Notary’s job, and the Spanish procedure, to read the document out loud to the client before signature is made.

A Poder is a very powerful document and should not be entered into lightly and it is advised that you choose your Attorney very carefully.

Usually the Poder is not tailored to the individual requirement you are wishing it to be used. For example if you are purchasing a property in Spain then you might think the Poder should just authorise the attorney to deal with all legal formalities relating to purchasing a property – however this is not usually the case – we see many Poders that are very wide in authority and usually authorises the Spanish adviser to deal with all kind of matters – dealing with courts, selling of property, dealing with banks etc…

The main reason for this is the Poder is usually a standard precedent which is run off the attorney’s computer precedent bank and includes authority to deal with whole range of stuff.

By running off a Poder which is not tailored to the clients individual’s needs usually keeps the legal costs down by not having to alter the template in any way. We have seen many clients who have felt slightly uncomfortable with the wide range of authority they are signing away but you may perhaps be invited to take the view that if you do not trust your Spanish adviser then why would you give him/her authority to deal with anything full stop?

Once a client is happy and signs the Power of Attorney/Poder then the document usually would need to be sent to the Foreign Office in Milton Keynes for an Apostille stamp.

This stamp confirms that the Notary who has dealt with notarisation of the Poder is a genuine qualified Notary and carries the necessary insurance [see my earlier blog for further information about the Apostille stamp]. 

When the above has taken place then it is ready to be sent to Spain for your adviser to proceed forthwith in dealing with your legal affairs in Spain – negating the need for you to travel.

If you have affairs in Spain or in any country of the world then please do get in touch if you require any assistance in dealing with any Legal documents.

As always, you can contact me or Chris here at AtkinsonNotary E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email notary@atkinsonnotary.com or via the website www.atkinsonnotary.com.