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Digital Wills – What does the future hold?

digital change 2019

I checked the website of the Law Commission recently to see whether there was any news on when we could expect their recommendations following last year’s consultation process on the law of wills. It does not seem imminent. We know, however, that changes are on the way. Probate applications can now be made online and, inevitably, there will be changes in the law enabling wills to be made in accordance with the requirements of the digital world in which we now live.

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The Inexorable Move to Online Everything – including probate

switching to digital

On 26th April 2018, Probaters received an email from the Probate Service of England and Wales informing us that the following day the rules were going to be changed to require applications to be made online.  As so little notice had been given the Probate Service have kindly advised us that until procedures are clearer, we can continue to use paper applications “so for the time being, therefore, there is no need to change any existing work that you have ongoing”.

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Simplifying Inheritance Tax – What a good idea!

inheritance tax

The most obvious simplification would be to remove the stupendously complicated residential nil rate band and instead increase the basic IHT allowance (frozen at £325,000 since 2009) to £500,000. But that did not figure in the two-part review of inheritance tax being carried out by the Office of Tax Simplification. The first part of their report, issued in late November, concentrated on reducing or removing the requirements to submit forms for smaller or simpler estates, especially where there is no tax to pay, and simplifying the administration and guidance. They also mentioned the advantages of banks and other financial institutions having standardised requirements and, of course, they were on the online bandwagon saying that the whole system should be automated by bringing it online.

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Probate Fees – An unjustified tax

stamp labelled probate

There has been plenty of publicity about the forthcoming hike in probate fees. The good news first: if the estate is worth less than £50,000 there will be no fee. But now the bad news.If the estate value is more than £50,000 the increases are as follows:-

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Office Moves!

we are moving chalk sign board

I think they are almost as bad as home moves. After 20 years in the old building, we have moved up the road. The bad things involve the disruption and discovering an amazing amount of accumulated defunct items accumulated over that long period. On the plus side, we are now integrated with our accountancy colleagues at Stanford Gate so our clients benefit from more depth in our tax and financial advice – particularly where income tax returns are required. And we are getting used to open plan and, I have to admit, it is a much more pleasant working environment. We are still close to Brighton Probate Registry and that means any communication with their office will be more or less instant. We find that at the moment Brighton are turning cases around quickly and it is probably a better choice than the London alternative.

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