Starting this month, solicitors will submit probate forms and applications online under legislation laid in parliament on 1st October. This comes as the government promises a ‘quicker and more reliable’ probate service.
HM Courts and Tribunals Services have been urging practitioners to use the online service ever since the project was launched in 2016. But by the end of 2019, records showed that probate professionals had primarily been using the simplified paper-based application process. Not only does this take longer to process; the method does not allow for the applicant to track its progress through the system.
Since its inception, HMCTS have carried out extensive research and trialled the new online service, making several improvements to ensure it meets the requirements of its users. As with any new service, solicitors have experienced some teething problems, but further research has been undertaken to ascertain what might be deterring practitioners from taking advantage of the system. Making its use mandatory must obviously come as a result of the growth of confidence in the online service.
The latest government figures reveal that only a third of probate applications are currently being processed digitally. Still, the changes are expected to see around three-quarters of applications move online. The reform is expected to generate savings of £20 million over the period of a decade.
Professionals are encouraged to create a MyHMCTS account, providing ‘a single place for a legal professional and other organisations to issue, pay for and manage applications within civil and family courts and tribunals.’ The new legislation mandates that solicitors use this service to submit the majority of applications from 2nd November.
Our clients have always been our utmost priority, and we feel that this is good news for them. The Ministry of Justice has commented on the efficiency of the online probate service and its potential to reduce the stress on grieving families. We welcome any initiative with these kinds of benefits.
At A M Davies, we are using the new online system. We feel that it streamlines the process well. No longer being required to complete paper statements of truth saves precious time, and the online dashboard is a great organisational tool for managing a high volume of probate applications at one time.
We are confident that the new legislation will enable grants to be processed more quickly, which should consequently allow for estate assets and administration to be dealt with without delay.
We will, however, continue to submit paper applications for complex estates involving multiple claimants.