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Online probate service for legal professionals

30 September 2019

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is rolling out a national pilot for probate that will enable legal professionals to access the online service.

From 1 October, legal professionals will be able to make an application for any probate, intestacy or a grant of letters of administration with will-annexed application.

The service for caveats will, in the interim, remain a paper application for legal professionals.

Development of the service

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

Chair of our Wills and Equity Committee Ian Bond and his firm, Talbots Law, have been part of the pilot from the outset. He states:

“Dealing with the administration of a loved one’s estate can be complicated. Part of that process is the application for a grant of representation.

“Depending on the nature, complexity and value of a deceased persons estate will determine the administrative process required to obtain the necessary grant.

“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.

“Whilst 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.”

It’s important to note that the online probate service is not a finished system and still has some work to go but it’s a positive step forward.

To make sure the system works and for improvements to be made, send your feedback to probatefeedback@justice.gov.uk.

What the new online service does

The online service will allow each law firm to:

  • manage their own account on the system
  • view all their probate applications in a single dashboard
  • 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 state that the only paper that will need to be sent to the probate service is the original will and inheritance tax (IHT) documentation.

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

How to sign up

Register to use the service

You must have a Pay By Account (PBA) account to use the new service. This lets you use the HMCTS Fee Account System to pay for online applications.

Apply for a PBA account

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be able to manage your accounts and start your online probate applications.

If you have a query while applying for a specific probate application online, including on intestate cases, call 0300 303 0648.

Delays to the probate service

HMCTS has apologised for the delays that are being experienced with the probate service.

We’re continuing to engage with HMCTS to deal with these delays.

They inform us that they’re “working on reducing the waiting times and are committed to bringing them back to normal levels as soon as possible”.

We have been invited to attend the Birmingham Courts and Tribunals Service Centre for our review meeting in October.

Read a summary of our meeting on 10 September

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