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Govt proposes mandatory online probate applications

Govt proposes mandatory online probate applications

The government has proposed making it mandatory for professionals to make probate applications online.

In a consultation out yesterday (August 10) the government said online applications saved on cost and time, and were a more efficient and reliable way to do it.

Other advantages included a 24-hour system where applications could be tracked and monitored, as well as a reduced risk of errors on applications.

Jeremy Curtis, partner at Cripps Pemberton Greenish, said: “This can only be a good thing... But there are reports that the service is currently unsuitable for use with more complex probate applications.

"The service will clearly need to develop and improve and while making it mandatory is one way to force the take up it might well prove counterproductive if done too early.

"In due course, and as online working becomes second nature, to not have online probate applications will seem backward by comparison."

However, the proposals included exceptions to a mandatory online application, such as cases where multiple applicants are entitled under intestacy, and applications by officers of a trust corporation.

Saying it was “clear that the service [had] to modernise”, the government added that a mandate for the online process would accelerate the modernisation, and help achieve the savings that the HM Courts and Tribunals Service needed to make to justify investment in a reform programme.

Launched in 2016, the government described the reform programme’s overall aim to “bring new technology and modern ways of working to the way justice is administered”.

Until 2017 professional probate practitioners could only make paper-based applications for probate.

chloe.cheung@ft.com