Probate fees: the uncertainty continues

15 May 2019

We blogged recently about the impending stealth tax the government plans to introduce and you will have seen the news stories about delays at probate registries due to IT issues.  
 
So, what is the update? Nothing. The probate fees order is still waiting for the final stages to bring it into law and probate registries are still battling with their backlogs.  
 
Following last week’s Business Questions (where future parliamentary business is set out) the government said the probate fees order had already been debated in committee and an approval motion would be brought in due course.
 
There had previously been the suggestion that Labour was going to seek to block the issue. However, it now appears that the government will actively try to avoid a full debate in the House of Commons. With what success remains to be seen.
 
Parliament is in recess from 23 May to 4 June 2019 so that limits the ability to bring the order to the House of Commons. The summer recess which marks the end of the parliamentary session has not yet been confirmed but is likely to be late July.
 
The probate fees order, if not passed before this point, could be abandoned but there is the possibility (which seems likely) it could be brought back in the following session in September.  
 
What does that mean? Uncertainty continues.
 
For the time being probate fees will remain as they are. The new order may or may not come into force before July. The only thing that is somewhat certain is the government has confirmed that any probate applications submitted prior to the fee increase should only incur the current lower fees. How long it takes to obtain the Grant of Probate is in itself a different question.
 
What is evident is that if you have experienced the recent death of a loved one, now is the time to take action. You should obtain legal advice as soon as possible.

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