10 March 2017
Following confirmation that the Ministry of Justice would be pushing ahead with a massive increase in probate fees, they have now released a draft Statutory Instrument. In addition to this, Newcastle District Probate Registry have produced some useful FAQs.
I assumed previously that a cut-off would apply by reference to date of death, but it seems that this was too simple. Instead the old fees will apply to full applications received by Probate Registries up to close of business on the last working day prior to the date on which the new fees come into effect (that date is still to be determined, but expected to be at some point in May). The new fees will apply to all applications received subsequently.
In order to avoid any issues with delays on the part of HMRC, the simultaneous submission of documents to the Revenue and the Probate Registry will be accepted.
It seems that where the executors do not have cash available to pay the fee, they will be able to apply to the Probate Registry to access a particular asset for the sole purpose of providing funds. We will have to see how this works in practice.
It is now absolutely clear that the new fees will be calculated by reference to the net estate that is the subject of the application for probate. This leaves scope for some interesting planning for those likely to be caught by the higher levels of charge.