It’s an acknowledged fact the Russian secret service is hacking into western government systems with remarkable success. Moreover hackers are getting smarter at collecting clone software from the dark side of the web.
On 6 April 2019 Harry Brennan pricked Probate’s bubble while writing for the Telegraph. He is personal finance writer for that media and covers investments, wills and probates so he should know.
It’s Bad Enough Putting the Fee Sky High
It’s bad enough ratcheting the fee up 2,700% with just the small matter of Brexit holding parliament back. However, surely we are entitled to a better service in return. If the Probate Office is serious about making things easier for consumers, that is.
However, this time the British authorities appear to have abandoned the policy of continuous improvement. It’s as if some bright spark said “let’s digitise the process,” while another added “let’s put up the fee at the same time and sneak it in under the ‘smoke screen’.
Are They Missing the Point of the Dark Side of the Web?
The Probate Office surely must have known about the scamming and ransom-waring going on. After all, they have access to taxpayers’ money to hire the best brains that you and we could never afford.
Despite this, Harry Brennan appears to have exposed a bigger bolthole than even Alice’s Red Queen would ever have needed. The online system for applying for Grants of Probate could be seriously flawed and that’s a worry.
Executors had to previously appear in Court and swear a polite oath before these changes. Or pop a note in a post box to lodge their Grant of Probate application. Jeremy Corbyn might call the current situation shambolic by comparison because that’s his style.
The Big Worry Is the Increase in Fraudulent Applications
A week before Harry Brennan spoke out, the Public & Commercial Services Union had said the online system was “not fit for purpose”.
That’s because “three-quarters of applications on the new system had been stopped by technical problems”. Harry Brennan quotes Thomas Dumont QC adding probate registry staff had been ‘eagle eyed’ at spotting bogus signatures.
“Now that will be completely lost and a cheer will echo among the will-forgers around the country,” the honourable QC explains. “It will be far easier to fake a submission and far more difficult for the general public to identify that forgery.”
We might add that internet scamsters, cheats and frauds are doubtless licking their lips at the details of recently deceased persons revealed in death notices in The Gazette,
We sincerely hope Thomas Dumont QC was over the top when he added it was “beyond belief” that the computerised system should coincide with rocketing fees. “It ought to make the Government blush.”
It would be a sad day for Britain if Probate controls developed across centuries were to fall on the sword of an impulsive programmer hastening to meet a deadline.
If the ‘two thirds of applications’ halted by technology were genuine, this begs another question. How many of those that got through were fraudulent? Recently bereaved persons deserve an answer!