Probate fee rise delayed as parliamentary time limited

Changes to probate fees have been delayed because of time limitations due to Brexit debates and motions, a draft statutory device is still waiting for an approval motion in the Commons.

The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that once the motion is approved, the new probate fee regime would come into effect 21 days later and not on 1 April as originally intended.

The new fee structure is unlikely to come into force until late April at the earliest, depending on parliamentary time. No date has been set for a parliamentary motion for the draft Non-Contentious Probate (Fees) Order 2018, which was initially laid before parliament on 7 February.

Normally, secondary legislation is passed without the hassle of a debate, as it is procedure. Although, MPs can refuse in which case an SI is not approved. This can lead to debates and subsequent amendments that could delay the whole process of any fees being introduced.

The Ministry of Justice plans to change the current flat rate fee for probate to one based on the value of the estate, which originally was due to take effect from 1 April.

The Ministry of Justice confirmed, the most recent probate fee structure will stay in place for as long as the current registration process, with the pre-HMRC inheritance tax registration required.

There has been confusion among advisers, who were expecting the rules to come into effect from next week and HMRC has reported a high level of calls from advisers asking about the current process to register an estate for inheritance tax through HMRC, which is mandatory before any registrations for probate.

A HMRC spokesperson stated: “The helplines were getting calls about the new probate fees – there is some confusion from our customers and a lot of people calling the helpline about this, asking about what was happening.”

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London