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probate fees delayed

Probate fee increases delayed due to Brexit debates

Early last month, we brought you an update on the proposed changes to Probate fees. The new fees were expected to come into effect from 1 April 2019, pending parliamentary approval.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) intends to replace the current flat-rate fee for probate with one that is determined by the value of the estate (revisit our last post for a reminder of the proposed new probate fees, here).

At the time, the proposals had been approved by the House of Lords and were set to go before the House of Commons.
 

Probate fee changes delayed in latest development

Now though, the changes have been delayed due to pressure on parliamentary time. This is largely as a result of Brexit debates and motions.

The proposals are currently still awaiting an approval motion in the Commons. The MoJ have confirmed that, once approved, the regime will take effect 21 days later. 

Depending on parliamentary time, the new fee structure is unlikely to be enforced until late April, at the earliest.

As it stands, no date has been set for a parliamentary motion. This, combined with the potential for MP’s to object, could further delay the introduction of the new charges.
 

In the meantime…

In the meantime, the MoJ has confirmed that the current probate fee structure will remain in place. This is true, too, of the current registration process.

There has, however, been confusion among advisers, who were expecting the rules to apply from this week.

HMRC has reported a high level of calls from advisers asking about the current process to register an estate for Inheritance Tax (IHT) through HMRC. This is a process which typically precedes any registrations for probate.

We can safely say that our expert advisers were not included in the cohort of callers, as we were fully aware of what was happening.

However, to help advisers HMRC is relaxing its position on the IHT registration process.

‘Probate registries will accept applications before processing by us as long as they are assured the IHT forms from us will be coming shortly.’ an HMRC spokesman confirmed.

This is identical to the transitional rules that were suggested when the last proposed increase (which never happened) in 2017 was announced.
 

Our thoughts…

Our Probate Director, Barry Jefferd, said: 

“It is acknowledged that the new fees are in effect a tax. Whilst any delay is welcome, the announcement was made just 4 days prior to when the increase was due to take effect.”

 

“The position could be helped if they used date of death to apply the charges, instead of the date of application. It is totally disgraceful that, upon a bereavement, the relatives do not know how much they will need to pay.”

We will continue to monitor any further developments in respect of these proposals and report on them as appropriate.

We would encourage anybody who is concerned about the fee increases to seek professional advice at the earliest opportunity.

You can find more information about our Probate offering here.

Article authored by Barry Jefferd, Head of GH Probate Limited.

GH Probate is the trading style of GH Probate Limited. Registered in England and Wales number 9630102. Registered Office: St George’s House, George Street, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE29 3GH.
Authorised to carry out the reserved legal activity of non-contentious probate in England and Wales by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales.

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