When Will The Probate Fees Changes Come Into Force?

The government has remained steadfast and resilient in their ambitions to push through the ‘stealth tax’ and probate fees changes.

However, since the announcement was made on Bonfire Night [November 5] and the smoke from the consequential fireworks of discontent has started to filter out, we have been left approaching the deadline without any indication of it and when the changes will come into force.

So, are the probate fees changes likely to come into force on Monday April 1? The short answer here appears to be, no.

Possibly, with the Commons in disarray following weeks of Brexit infighting and EU withdrawal uncertainty, the Probate Fees Bill may have been put on the back burner.

The Probate Fees order has definitely missed the parliamentary timetable which would have meant changes would have been fittingly implemented on April Fool’s Day, April 1. As it stands, this deadline has been missed which means both the start of the calendar month and the start of the next financial year, April 6, will retain the current probate rules.

The Bill could still materialise into law in April, with April 15 looking like the earliest possible time it could be placed on the parliamentary timetable and written into law.

There is also the possible scenario of the Statutory Instrument (SI) being voted down in parliament. The Labour Party remain opposed to the probate fees changes, insisting that the SI is an abuse of power; if they reject the proposal, it could face the full scrutiny of a parliamentary vote.

Whilst the Conservatives may have the majority to vote the changes in, at the very least a vote would cause further delays to the implementation date of the changes.

If the wind is in the favour of the opposition, there is also the realistic chance that the Commons vote against the changes and the proposal is scrapped altogether.

Although many experts in Wills and Estate Planning will sensibly continue working towards the assumption that changes will take effect in April, there is every chance that this contentious issue, which exploded into the psyche on November 5 last year, could continue fizzling, without a clear outcome, for the foreseeable future.

At the very least, like the Brexit issue that is occupying parliament at the current time, the outlook for probate fees remains ambiguous, confusing and extremely frustrating.

Have you been planning for changes to take place at the start of April? Do you think the changes will come into law during April? How will these changes affect grieving families?

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