Digital Meets Probate
At last, the HM courts are finally finding their way into the 21st century with the long-awaited launch of the digital service allowing people to carry out their grant of probate application online.
Applying for Probate Before Now
Before now, to obtain a grant of probate upon registering the death of the deceased individual and valuing their estate, an individual had to download the probate application form (PA1) from the HMCTS (HM Courts and Tribunal Service) website, fill it out, and drop it off at a Solicitor’s office or Probate Registry nearest to them. The statement of truth (oath) will then be sworn afterwards.
Probate Application in The Digital Age
Now, the digital service recently launched by the HMCTS allows the application of up to 4 joint executors, the swearing of the statement of truth, and the payment of the £215 fee (payable for estates worth over £5,000) online. This finally eliminates the need to visit the solicitor’s office or a Probate Registry.
The online application however does not eliminate the need for the deceased’s original Will and original death certificate. As with the manual application, both documents are required to apply for probate online.
According to the HMCTS Chief Executive – Susan Acland-Hood, this new digital service helps the bereaved at a challenging time, by eliminating the need to visit a probate registry to submit a grant of probate application, or swear the statement of truth in person. This greatly makes the probate application more convenient, simpler, and easier.
She further expressed her satisfaction at how much difference those that have tried the new service think it makes, and equally showed her delight at finally being able to offer the general public a simpler way of getting probate done.
The launch of the digital service in January followed a beta trial started in 2017, which saw 93% of users express their contentment with the service. The online digital service cannot, however, be currently used if the deceased individual was a non-permanent resident of England or wales, or in the absence of the original Will.
Hike in Probate Charges
The direct consequence of the ease and simplicity the new online probate application digital service brings is an attendant increase in probate charges. The digital service was developed as part of the court reform program of HMCTS as announced in November 2018, by the justice minister – Lucy Frazer. The increased probate charges will fund part of this program.
The online probate application service makes it possible for everyone to quickly and easily navigate the judicial system. Increase in probate fees aside, the introduction of this digital service is long overdue, and a needed addition to the probate process. It not only saves the bereaved a lot of time and effort, it also makes their probate application comfortable, eliminating stress.