Amendments to Probate Practice – The Non-Contentious Probate (Amendment) Rules 2018 (the Rules)

The Rules came into force on 28 November 2018. They are brief, one of the main amendments being that a personal applicant may now make an application for Probate online, simplifying the probate procedure and bringing it up to date with modern practice.  Previously, it was only possible to apply for the Grant of Probate by postal application.

A personal applicant is one that applies for Probate without obtaining representation from a Solicitor. They will now be able to submit their application for Probate online, pay the relevant fee (previously it could only be paid with a cheque to the local Probate Registry) and sign an electronic statement of truth, removing the need to attend a Solicitor’s office to swear an Oath in person.  There is still however the requirement to post the hard copy documents to the Registry, such as the original will and death certificate, and the applicable inheritance tax forms.

The new system is currently only developed to support applications for Grants of Probate (where there is a will) and not Grants of Letters of Administration (where the deceased has died intestate i.e. without a will). Those applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration must still apply using the postal procedure.

The Rules also introduced the possibility to sign a statement of truth, instead of making an arduous trip to a Solicitor to swear an Oath and pay a small fee.  This appears to be to support the ability to submit the application for Probate online.  There are at present no guidelines as to when the Probate Registry will stop accepting Oaths.

It is hoped that one would not rely on the online service and forego the decision to take independent legal advice on the administration of an estate, when it would be prudent to obtain advice.  Some estates can be complex, have a foreign element or dispute, or call for a lot of administrative work in valuing the assets and completing the inheritance tax return accurately.

Should you require any assistance with an application for a Grant of Representation, please do not hesitate to contact our Probate department on 0207 703 5034 or at laura@meaby.co.uk