HMCTS Hosts Online Probate Reform Event For Legal Professionals

HM Courts and Tribunal Services (HMCTS) will be holding an online event on probate reform next month.

The forum, which is aimed at legal professionals making applications for a grant of probate, will take place on Thursday 4th July, 5.30pm to 7.30pm, focusing on the following:

  • the online probate journey so far
  • the current frustrations being experienced
  • future plans for the service
  • a demonstration of the new online service for professional users
  • an explanation of the new paper route

In order to revolutionise the justice system, transformation and digitisation of probate services have been high on the agenda. HMCTS has been piloting two new online probate portals, one professional and one lay person’s portal.

The online probate pilot has been accepting online applications from selected personal applicants and 15 pre-selected solicitors firms.

The trial of HMCTS new online probate service for personal applicants throughout England and Wales last year had been very positive, while the professional portal users were seeing the ‘positive’ benefits of the move online, it still required more work and was behind in comparison to the personal applicants pilot.

Earlier this year, Ian Bond, Chair of The Law Society’s Wills and Equity Committee and director and Head of Trust and Estates at Talbots Law updated Today’s Wills and Probate readers on the new online probate service pilot.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice pressed ahead with the closure of regional probate registries, which included the principal probate registry in central London, 11 district probate registries and 18 probate sub-registries – with the plan to move all probate services to the centralised Court and Tribunals service centre in Birmingham.

The proposed closures came as parliament considered introducing a new structured system of payment for probate fees. But the long drawn out uncertainty of when the Probate Fee Order was going to launch has led to a rise in probate applications to avoid the proposed increased fees causing big delays.

In May this year, HMCTS was put under intense scrutiny due to delays to the probate service, confirming that the average time to process an application for probate was taking over 30 working days.

The Law Society challenged the HMCTS on the delays as they had concerns over the current situation and wanted answers as to how the escalating issues could be resolved.

The Law Society continues to advise that there needs to be better communication between registries and the service users and highlighted it should include regular updates containing the following information:

  • expected turnaround time
  • details of applications outstanding
  • date of applications being processed

The Law Society will be having a follow-up meeting with HMCTS in the near future to review what progress has been made in addressing the issues encountered with the probate delays.

For the online event next month professionals can submit questions to HMCTS in advance using the event registration form or by sending an email to [email protected]. The forum will be running for approximately 2 hours and will be recorded and available to watch afterwards.

For more information and to register on the event click here.