PROBATE APPLICATION CHANGES
By Katie Hancock, Associate Solicitor
Various changes have been implemented to the way in which individuals can apply for a Grant of Probate in the estate of a deceased person, which seek to modernise and simplify the process.
The Non-Contentious Probate (Amendment) Rules 2018 came into force on 27 November 2018. They amend the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 (S.I. 1987/2024).
In certain circumstances, the new rules allow personal applicants to apply for a Grant of Probate via an online portal and also to pay the probate application fee online rather than by way of a cheque in the post.
At the moment, this procedure is only available where:
Although the online process is currently limited, there are plans to develop the system to cover a broader range of applications in the future.
In order to facilitate the use of the online process, it has been necessary to dispense with the current requirement for the executors to ‘swear an Oath’ as part of the probate application. Up until now, executors have been required to take the original Will of the deceased person to a solicitor or a commissioner for oaths, and either swear on the bible or make an affirmation that they are entitled to administer the estate, and that the information they have provided is correct.
Under the new rules, each executor will simply need to sign a statement of truth instead. There is no requirement for the signature to be witnessed.
The online application form also includes a ‘save and return’ function, which allows executors to begin the application and then save and return to it later if they are awaiting any missing information.
This will arguably make the process quicker and easier, however it is no less imperative for the information contained in the probate application to be accurate. It is still, therefore, advisable to seek the advice of a solicitor when dealing with the administration of an estate, especially in cases where the estate is liable to inheritance tax or where there are other complex factors.
For more information, please contact Katie Hancock in our Private Client department on 01892 515022 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org