The new probate fees moved a step closer today following the narrow vote in favour of introducing the new fee structure by the House of Commons Delegated Legislation Committee.
Much is still up in the air - for example the date on which the new fees will take effect. We’re told it will be in April but with no further information those involved in estate administration work should plan for 1st April.
We also have no information about how the fees will be paid. At the moment the fee is paid up front when the personal representatives of an estate make their application for a Grant of Representation. Not such a problem when the fee for a solicitor application is £160 but this may be more problematic if an estate is paying the top rate of £6,000 and there is no readily available cash in the estate to meet the fee.
For recently bereaved families one of the biggest questions is whether the new fees will apply only to deaths taking place after the fees are introduced, or also to deaths before the fee increase where the application for the Grant of Representation is submitted after the new fees are introduced. When the fee increases were mooted previously the intention was to link the fee to date that the Grant application was made. This resulted in families and their advisers rushing to get Grant applications submitted before deadline day, adding stress and worry for families at an already difficult time.
Representations have been made to the government to change their approach this time and link the fee increase to the date of death, thus alleviating pressure on families. Let’s hope the government listens.