The planned hike in probate fees – which had been scheduled to take place from April 1 – has been delayed as a consequence of ongoing parliamentary Brexit discussions.
An official from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) explained that, for a new structure for probate fees to be introduced, an approval motion must be scheduled in the House of Commons. After a vote takes place, it will be a further 21 days before the new rules will come into force. Due to ongoing discussions in parliament about the UK’s exit from the European Union, the MoJ has not been able to schedule the motion. However, it was also confirmed that the planned increases will still be introduced once parliamentary time allows.
In November 2018, the Government announced that probate fees – which are paid when someone’s estate is administered after they die – would be charged on a sliding scale basis, reflecting the value of the deceased’s estate as a whole. At the moment, a flat fee is charged for this for estates in England and Wales.
The Government plans to abolish probate fees for estates below the value of £50,000 – for estates that are above this value, charges will be increased. This has attracted criticisms from those with large estates. Estates worth over £2 million will see an increase in fees of £6,000.
The simple answer is, we don’t know. The MoJ expects that the new fee structure will not be introduced for at least three weeks, but no date has been set about when this will happen.
Parliament will need to approve the new rules. The legislation must be read out in the House of Commons, and if any MP objects, the changes may require to be voted on by the whole House. This type of legislation will usually be passed by parliament, but could, in theory, be voted down. Assuming it is passed, there will be 21 days before the new rules come into force.
If you have recently lost a loved one and are planning to apply for probate, you will not be charged the higher fees if you do so before the new cost structure comes into force.
The rules apply to estates in England and Wales – fees in Scotland and Northern Ireland are charged differently.
Estates worth less than £50,000 will pay nothing – those worth more than this amount will see an increase in fees of between £35 and £5,785:
If you have any questions relating to the probate process, our expert probate lawyers will be happy to help. Based in London, Sheffield and Manchester and representing clients throughout England and Wales, speak with one of our solicitors today by calling 0808 168 5813 or complete our online contact form.