Non-Contentious Probate Rule Changes Come Into Force
Part of the non-contentious probate rules came into force yesterday. In a bid to update the 1987 rules, many sections of the document have been amended.
Despite being non-contentious rule changes, the way that government rushed the rules through was tarnished in controversy. Because the Government ensured the rules were laid using a negative instrument, the proposals did not need to go through parliament in order to become law. Consequently, the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 2018 amendments were signed by an MP on November 1st and have now come into law.
Because the modern consumer demands instant gratification and depends on online formats to complete their formal documents, the Ministry of Justice has updated the way applications of probate are made. Applicants will now use an online application process which should make the process a lot less daunting and easier as applications can be made at a time to suit the consumer.
Having already trialled the use of digital online applications from personal applicants during the summer, the new law will extend this to all applicants that are not represented by probate specialists during the application.
However, some feel that the ability for unrepresented applications could lead to further delays from applications containing errors. Others have worried that this system could lead to less people using expert and professional advice which could increase the number of disputes further down the line.
Furthermore, in order to make the process more efficient and faster, the laws that came into force on 27th November state that applications for probate can now be verified by a statement of truth rather than a signed oath by the applicant and legal representative.
Those wishing to question an estate by making caveats to the probate process or applying for standing searches to research the grant of application further will be able to do so using the new electronic system.
The amendment will also extend the powers of district probate registrars. The new amendments will give them similar powers to a district judge which could see their role develop further in the future.
Despite offering amendments that are aimed at simplifying the process, there is a worry that many will use the online system to bypass a probate specialist which could open the door to increased contentious probate cases.
There is also confusion surrounding the extended role of the probate registrar and how far their increased powers will stretch.
How will this affect specialists in the Wills and probate sector? Do you envision any further problems with that could arise through this amended legislation?