As of November 2nd 2020, probate applications submitted by solicitors must now be made online. What does this mean for our team, and will this online probate application system affect you?
What Has Changed?
Wills and probate solicitors must now use an online system in the majority of probate cases, instead of submitting paper forms.
Solicitors can still use paper forms where there are complex circumstances. However, the Ministry of Justice estimates around three-quarters of applications submitted by legal professionals will now be online. We can provide you with the expertise to know the difference.
Why Have These Changes Been Made?
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said:
‘Our efficient online probate services are simpler, quicker and more reliable, and reduce the stress on grieving families.’
Pushing probate application forms online is part of a government initiative to modernise the system and the aim to make it both cheaper and more efficient. The new programme is expected to generate savings of up to £20 million over the next decade.
It has also been revealed that over 35% of all paper applications for probate, submitted by both professionals and non-professionals, are stopped by HM Courts and Tribunal Services because they are missing documentation or data. Those in charge hope that this online system will help negate these errors and avoid double handling, speeding up the process and relieving applicants’ frustrations when there are delays.
Have There Been Any Teething Issues?
Despite the remit for simplifying the probate system the online process still requires manual submission of paper. We are alert to this and aim to minimise any delays brought on by these changes. The inclusion of the online system has also led to delays in the processing of manual applications, presumably because of the reallocation of resources.
In all online system there are inevitably technological challenges. Law Society president David Greene said:
'Whilst there are clear benefits to having all professional probate applications online – such as that the online system provides instant feedback – solicitors have also experienced some teething problems with the new system and we have communicated these concerns to HMCTS directly.
'Any IT system will inevitably experience glitches from time to time and it is important there are fully developed and clearly understood contingency arrangements in place for when such failures occur.'
What Does This Mean for You?
Since the pandemic hit in early 2020, there have been substantial delays and a backlog of processing. However, we have made representations to various legal bodies and directly to the HM Courts and Tribunal Services in order that their systems improve to allow us to continue our drive towards working as efficiently as possible for our clients.
We aim to provide our clients with the same quality service, completed sooner.
How to Apply for Probate
If you would like legal assistance with wills and probate, please get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable team of solicitors today.