Soaring fees set deadline for executors and estate planning

Controversial court fees which have been branded a stealth tax on bereaved families are expected to prompt a surge in probate applications before the hike hits. The new banded fee structure will see the cost of probate soar by thousands of pounds for higher value estates. The current flat fee is £215 for a personal application for probate, or £155 when handled through a solicitor, but this is to be replaced by a tiered set of fees. While the fees have been reined in from the original proposal last year,…

Disputing a Will can be a very costly exercise

Record numbers of inheritance disputes are going through the courts as modern family structures and rising house prices push more families to contest unfavourable outcomes.  One recent case has seen a family lose out after legal action involved two brothers who have run up fees of more than their entire inheritance by disputing a stepmother's share of their father’s estate. The trend towards increased inheritance disputes has been attributed to a number of factors.  Increasing numbers of so-called ‘blended’ families where divorced parents re-marry is one such factor, with original family members…

Maximising your opportunities for inheritance tax reliefs

As the end of the tax year approaches on 5th April, it's a good time to make sure you're maximising your opportunities for inheritance tax reliefs.  This year, as well as taking advantage of exempt lifetime gifts and transfers, property owners should also look at how the new transferable residence nil rate band fits their profile. The Residential Property Nil Rate Band Under the new rules, when a person leaves a residential property to direct descendants there will be an additional nil-rate band for inheritance tax purposes – the transferable…

Animal charities win battle in fight over inheritance case

A woman, who was cut out of her mother’s £500,000 will, has lost out to three animal charities at the Supreme Court in a landmark judgment this month. In 2004, Melita Jackson died and left most of her estate to three animal charities and completely cut her only child, daughter Helen Ilott, out of her will. Mrs Ilott was originally awarded £50,000 by a judge, which was almost tripled on appeal. The three charities challenged that increase, stating that people should be free to choose their beneficiaries, and the court…

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