Probate fees update

Probate fees are due to increase – but it seems that Brexit has forced a delay.  It has been reported in the press that the controversial new probate fees payable to execute the will of a deceased person in England and Wales, which were expected to come in on April 1 2019, have been delayed indefinitely because Parliament has been so consumed by Brexit.

The increases, branded by critics as a stealth tax, will see the costs of probate rise from the current flat charge of £215 to a minimum of £250. Under the new six-band structure, fees rise to a maximum of £6,000 (at an estate of £2m), depending on the size of the estate being administered.  According to the Financial Times, tax experts said they had received emails from the Ministry of Justice last week saying the motion had “not yet been scheduled”. “This means that the new probate fees regime will not be introduced on April 1,” the email said. The Ministry of Justice said the motion to pass the increases would be tabled as soon as “parliamentary time allows”.

HMRC has put in place a temporary process when applying for probate while the probate fee changes are being considered. Probate registries will accept applications for probate before the account has been processed by HMRC. The application must include a note to say that the appropriate inheritance tax forms will follow in due course.  However, note that (at the time of writing) there is no suggestion from HMRC of any change to the Government’s plans to introduce these new probate fee charges.

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