Delay to increase in probate fees

Changes to probate fees – due to take effect last month – have been delayed as Parliament wrangles to resolve the Brexit stalemate.

Bereaved families currently pay a flat fee of up to £215 to obtain the grant of probate needed in England and Wales to administer estates worth more than £5,000.

That system was due to be replaced on 1 April 2019 by a new regime, which would set fees on a sliding scale based on the value of an estate.

The changes will eventually abolish probate fees for estates worth less than £50,000 in England and Wales, although estates worth more than this face paying increased fees of up to £6,000.

The new probate fees system will kick in 21 days after the motion is passed, although the new fees will not alter the probate process in Scotland.

Usually, to get probate in England and Wales, whoever is dealing with the estate must first submit an inheritance tax account to HMRC, which provides an inheritance tax reference number.

Probate registries usually do not accept an application for probate until the Revenue has confirmed that it has received that account.

However, as an interim measure, probate registries will temporarily accept applications before HMRC processes them as long as assurance is given that the inheritance tax forms will follow shortly.

Despite receiving approval from peers, a separate House of Lords committee described the increased fees in November 2018 as a “stealth tax”.

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