Law Society Keeps Pressure On HMCTS Over Probate Service Issues

Probate service issues continue to be top of the agenda as Ian Bond, Chair of The Law Society’s ‘Wills and Equity Committee’ will attend a follow-up meeting next month to keep the pressure on HMCTS to resolve the probate problems.

With the continuous delays over the last few months greatly affecting grieving families, The Law Society and representatives from Solicitors for the Elderly and Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners will come together on the 10th September in London to discuss the ongoing problems from a practical level.

Furthermore, in order to revolutionise the justice system, transformation and digitisation has been top of the list as The Law Society’s new President, Simon Davis, met with HMCTS CEO, Susan Acland-Hood last week to discuss the progress of the reform programme and probate issues.

Last month, Ian Bond updated Today’s Wills and Probate readers on the probate delays following his meeting in June where he confirmed that HMCTS was working to get back to business as usual by the end of the summer.

Ahead of the September meeting, The Law Society released an article to their members which call for evidence on probate delays by asking for examples of poor service, delays, and the issues that have been caused.

In regard to HMCTS piloting two new online probate services for personal and professional applicants, the online portal has been opened out wider to more professionals after expert users were seeing the positive benefits of the move online.

On the 4th July HMCTS held an online event on probate reform, which was aimed at legal professionals and probate practitioners by providing an overview of reforms to the probate service. Following the event, HMCTS published a document of FAQS due to not being able to answer all of the questions submitted during the event.

The aim of the forum was to encourage more firms on to the professional online portal over the summer and into the autumn.

Ian Bond informed Today’s Wills and Probate that in relation to the probate event on the 4th July:

“HMCTS did mention the changes to the paper probate application process and that all non-online applications (lay and professional) will move to a standard paper form.

“Currently, probate applications are the only area of the court service where laypersons use a different process to professionals and have a separate fee. The aim is to make the process and fee consistent.

“The Law Society has spoken with HMCTS about the new form – the first draft of which is awaited.

“HMCTS has unilaterally decided to change the way professionals apply for Grants in paper form.

“The Law Society (and others) didn’t get a chance to make representations about this – our only input is about the format of the new forms. Now that the decision has been made the Law Society is keen to work with HMCTS to make sure that the new form is both efficient and practical in design, and will encompass the varied types of applications and circumstances that can arise when applying for a grant of representation.”

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