What are the Implications of the Delay to the Probate Fees Hike?

If you were to be on the receiving end of an estate worth £2m, you could be excused for thinking that the days of hyper-inflation in post war Germany were being visited upon us in England and Wales. Although the implementation has been delayed due to Brexit, probate application fees are set to rise from a flat rate of £215 to an inflation-busting £6000 – a hike of nearly 3000%!

Ministers decided that parliament should re-classify the charges as a “fee” rather than a “tax”. This would allow the bill to pass through parliament more easily as it would simply require a “statutory instrument” and, as these routinely receive less scrutiny they would go under the radar and on to the statute books. What makes the argument against the bill more urgent is it would effectively create a compound taxation as the estate in question would already have attracted Inheritance Tax.

Unsurprisingly, the proposal has attracted vociferous opposition. Although the government have declined requests to drop it, the planned launch date of 1st April was scuppered because the necessary legislation or “Fees Order” had not been laid before parliament (and – as of the time of writing – it still hasn’t!). This is – at least in part – due to the volume of parliamentary business generated by Brexit. However, should implementation be granted, the fee hike will take at least 21 days to come into effect. And with several Labour MPs saying that they will oppose the measures, there is no guarantee that the new fee structure will be given the green light. All of this means that a slowly closing window of opportunity has presented itself…….

How so? Well, the new probate fees are based on the date on which individuals apply for probate, rather than on the date of death. Therefore, it is clearly important to make an application at the earliest possible opportunity to minimise the risk of incurring considerably increased fees.

Given the ongoing debate surrounding the future of probate fees, and the general cloud of uncertainty hanging over the country at the present moment, our services bring a sense of stability and calm to proceedings.

Whilst we can’t directly change the outcome of the proposed probate fee hike, should you choose to employ our services we can maximise your chances of receiving the best possible outcome.

At A M Davies, we work closely with our clients to ensure their needs and wishes are met. Our flexible, customer-focused approach makes us different- we’ll happily arrange to meet you at your home for your convenience and reassurance.

We promise to communicate effectively with our clients throughout the entire process – making sure they understand the implications of each stage, and that we continue to operate with their best interests at heart.

Above all, we understand the importance of managing the process efficiently and sensitively; we work to ensure that unnecessary delays and costs are avoided. During emotionally-charged times, we bring the experience and reassurance that is needed to bring some comfort and calm to all of those involved.