A further reprieve for families of the newly bereaved?

In April this year we brought you news that controversial plans to introduce significantly increased Probate fees on 1 April 2019 had been delayed as Parliament focussed on more pressing business.

The proposed increases would see Probate fees rise from the current flat rate of £215 per application (reduced to £155 if a solicitor involved) to a tiered structure based on the value of the estate, as follows: 

  • Estates valued between £50,000 and £300,000 will pay £250
  • Estates valued between £300,000 and £500,000 will pay £750
  • Estates valued between £500,000 up to £1 million will pay £2,500
  • Estates valued between £1 million up to £1.6 million will pay £4,000
  • Estates valued between £1.6 million up to £2 million will pay £5,000
  • Estates worth more than £2 million will pay £6,000, a rise of £5,785

While these changes could mean an increase in the fee of over 2500% for some estates, on the flip side, the new structure would also see estates worth between £5,000 and £50,000 paying nothing.

As Brexit continues to dominate the UK political agenda this particular motion has not yet been heard and the prorogation (suspension) of Parliament by Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resulted in the motion to approve this legislation lapsing. 
In general terms this means that the long overdue vote to approve the increase in fees will not be introduced unless a statutory instrument is brought back in the next parliamentary session which opens on 14 October.

However, we consider it highly unlikely that this issue will be top of the political agenda whilst the complexities surrounding our withdrawal from Europe remain unresolved.  

That said, obtaining probate can be a lengthy process, as ordinarily the person dealing with the estate must first submit an Inheritance Tax account to HMRC.

So while larger estates will be pleased at the delay, they may still be concerned that they won’t have completed the process in time.

Therefore, while the changes to the probate fees are still being considered, there is a temporary process in place.

Probate registries will accept applications for probate before the account has been processed by HMRC, as long as the application includes a note to say that the appropriate Inheritance Tax forms will follow shortly.