The HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) Probate Reform Team provides an update on the online grant of representation service, and how solicitors can get involved in the next stage of testing. 

You may remember that Ian Bond provided an update ( in the August 2017 edition of PS magazine about the MoJ’s modernisation plans for the Probate Service.

One aspect of the modernisation programme is the proposed introduction of an online grant of representation service to simplify the application process and allow for applications to be handled digitally. 

The HMCTS Probate Reform Team is working to launch a pilot MVP version – a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters – of the digital service this spring for use by solicitors and professionals.

How the pilot will run

During the pilot, a select number of invited firms and professionals from across the country will take part in applying for probate online on behalf of their clients through the new digital service. 

The scope and types of cases that professionals can apply for will be narrow or ‘minimum’, to enable simple cases for grants of probate only with set eligibility criteria. This will ensure the digital application is tested with a controlled audience as a ‘viable product’ for release, whilst we continue to build additional functionality into the application.    

Who the project has engaged with so far

  • 130+ solicitors and professionals
  • 85+ firms

Meeting user needs of professionals and their clients

We are agile, energised and proactively working to ensure we meet the user needs of professionals and their clients to make applying for a grant of probate as simple and frictionless as possible.

Currently, around 40 per cent of the overall number of grants of probate are either stopped or delayed, but the digital service aims to significantly reduce this through a simplified and more straightforward online application.

We are meeting the needs of the key actors in this journey and streamlining and optimising the digital process to complement and expedite the current offline process of applying for a grant of probate in a number of ways.

  • Removing the need for your clients to physically swear the oath by enabling you to sign a ‘Statement of Truth’ on their behalf
  • Reducing the need for settling (as the oath is drafted as a Legal Statement and Declaration online)
  • Providing access to a case management system which will provide a case list page. This will enable solicitors to monitor and track the progress and statuses of all ongoing applications, for example ‘draft’ (in progress) and ‘submitted’ applications. In the future, you will also be able to track the progress of applications after they have been ‘submitted’, eg ‘grant issued’ or ‘despatched’, and have the ability to view and action requisition issues
  • Once the digital service is established and up and running, our ambition is for the turnaround and issuing of grants to be within seven working days
  • For the pilot, we will have a dedicated team of staff at the Birmingham Probate Registry who will deal with digital applications for both personal applicants and professionals applying online.

Take part in the pilot and be the first to make digital applications for probate on behalf of your clients

If you are interested in taking part in the pilot and getting details on eligibility criteria, please email the Probate for Solicitors and Professionals Team at HMCTS .