Further to our note in the last Newsletter, the probate fees order which will radically increase probate fees for most estates is still waiting for the final stages to bring it into law; at the same time probate registries are still battling with significant backlogs with applications taking 6 to 10 weeks to process from the time they are received.
Earlier this month 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 the opposition was going to seek to block the issue, but the government have indicated that it will actively try to avoid a full debate in the House of Commons which is hardly satisfactory.
Parliament was in recess until 4th June 2019, so this has limited 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) that it could be brought back in the following session in September. For the time being probate fees will remain as they are, but this is against a background which is fraught with huge uncertainty. The new order may or may not come into force before July. The only thing that is certain is that the government has confirmed that any probate applications submitted prior to the fee increase should only incur the current lower fees. Of course this is the reason why probate registries are currently so inundated with applications at this time. What is evident is that if you have experienced the recent death of a loved one, now is the time to take action.