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Online Probate Application | Government Rolls Out New Online Grant of Probate Application Service

UK Government Rolls Out New Online Probate Application Service

The HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) recently announced that the new online probate application service invited users were able to test since 2017 can now be used by most named executors (England & Wales). 

About the Online Probate Application Service

Set up alongside online divorce & money claims under the HM C & T Service’s £1billion court reform programme, the new online grant of probate application service allows individual or joint applicants (up to four) to apply for a grant of probate, pay & swear statements of truth online if the:

- Probate application service can now be used by most named executors (England & Wales). 

- Deceased person was a permanent resident in Wales or England

- Applicant is a named executor and has the original will

In the event of intestacy (i.e. no will/other binding declaration was made), letters of administration are required. The ability to apply for these letters online is currently subject to future development of the service.

Until now, named executors were required to visit a solicitor’s office or probate registry to obtain permission (grant of probate) to deal with a deceased individual’s estate and wind up their affairs.

Making the probate application process more efficient and straightforward, this new online service now enables executors applying for probate to do so at their own convenience and from the comfort of their home. Learn more.

Probate Application Fees

The new service will be very helpful for executors trying to complete probate applications before April 2019, when probate fees are going to rocket for many estates.

At the moment, the probate fee is £215 and the fee is waived for estates worth under £5,000.

The new system commencing in April will mean there is nothing to pay for estates worth £50,000 or below, but fees will rise substantially for estates above this threshold (see image for details).

Specialist Solicitors’ Reaction

Cautiously welcoming this new development, specialist solicitors, on the other hand, warned of the potential risks of ‘DIY probate’ applications.

Stating that this online system can be an excellent tool for the administration of simple estates and unquestionably has its place, the Law Society Wills & Equity Committee’s chair Ian Bond warned that administering more complex estates could quickly become difficult.

Further stating that members of the public are often unaware that they could be held liable for any mistakes made, he suggested that anyone in doubt over complex probate issues should ensure proper administration of an estate by consulting professionals (i.e. specialist solicitors).

Expressing his opinion that work to streamline and simplify the process of probate application should certainly be welcomed, ILM (Institute of Legacy Management) chief executive Matthew Lagden said that the reports provided by firms taking part in the pilot had been positive.

He did, however, note that involving probate professionals – preferably solicitors – is the safest option when an estate’s residue (or part thereof) is left to a charity, because:

Charitable estate-related laws involve complexities lay persons cannot be reasonably expected to be aware of, and

Auditors place certain administrative requirements upon charities – which solicitors can both understand and very efficiently deal with

Ultimately, it is your choice whether you wish to make your probate application online or via a specialist solicitor or probate registry. We do, however, recommend consulting an experienced solicitor if you have any doubt concerning your ability to correctly and effectively deal with more complex probate issues.

Rose & Rose Solicitors

While this new online service is without doubt helpful to some extent, it is still best to use a solicitor when applying for probate, because the many issues to consider when doing so can all too easily result in someone without relevant experience making mistakes – and mistakes can cause both lengthy delays and extra expenses.

We have a team of experienced solicitors specialising in complex probate applications/issues and relevant laws, rules & regulations. To learn more and/or enlist our services, please contact us online, e-mail us: info@roselegal.co.uk or call us on: 0203 811 7487 today.

Please note we are unable to offer legal aid