EditorSolicitors Journal

Online probate service launched

Online probate service launched

A national pilot allowing legal professionals to access an online probate service is being rolled out by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS).

A national pilot allowing legal professionals to access an online probate service is being rolled out by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS).

From 1 October, online applications can be made for any probate, intestacy or a grant of letters of administration. The service for caveats will, however, remain a paper application for now.

The online service will allow law firms to manage their own account on the system; view their probate applications in a single dashboard; and monitor the stages of their applications online, removing the need to phone HMCTS for updates.

Applications can be submitted any time of the day and will be instantly uploaded to the system.

HMCTS said only the original will and inheritance tax (IHT) documentation need to be sent to the probate service.

These will be scanned in and automatically attached to the relevant case.

Legal professionals must have a pay-by-account (PBA) account to use the new service, enabling them to use the HMCTS fee account system to pay for online applications. Once signed up, they can manage their accounts and start their online probate applications.

More than 50 firms have taken part in the development of the service using real cases to test and provide feedback on the system.

Chair of the Law Society’s wills and equity committee Ian Bond and his firm, Talbots Law, have been part of the pilot from the outset.

He said: “The digitisation of the process to apply for the grant of representation means that in most uncontested applications the online service has made the system much easier for our solicitors and a better experience for our clients.”

“While the online system started with applications where a will existed, it has developed and will continue to be developed to cover a broader range of applications in the future. We look forward to working with HMCTS for the continued development and welcome the fact that more solicitors can join the scheme and see the benefits it brings to the firm and its clients,” he added.

The Law Society has stressed that the online probate service is not yet a finished system and called for legal professionals to send feedback on it to probatefeedback@justice.gov.uk.

Meanwhile, HMCTS apologised for the delays that are being experienced with the probate service and has told the Law Society it is “working on reducing the waiting times and are committed to bringing them back to normal levels as soon as possible”.

The Society said it is continuing to engage with HMCTS to deal with these delays.

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