As of Monday 18 May, the probate registries will only accept paper probate applications on the new standard application forms. Chris Claxton-Shirley of Tees Law explains what you need to know.

There are currently two separate application forms, one for lay applicants and one for professionals, so you should be careful to ensure that you use the correct form. The reasoning behind introducing the forms at such a difficult time has been to enable the probate registries to use their ‘bulk scanning service’, allowing them to work remotely and continue to produce grants.

In a move which will be of relief to practitioners, HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has confirmed that electronic signatures, including typed signatures, will be accepted on the paper forms. The alternative is to apply online, which is being actively encouraged.

Submitting the paper form

If you are submitting a paper application, the forms must be sent to either the Oxford or Newcastle district probate registries. Welsh language cases will continue to be sent internally and dealt with in Cardiff, but the registries have asked that applicants do not send those applications directly to Cardiff.

From a practical perspective, you will notice that the paper application forms are of considerable length. In respect of applications where the partners in a firm are applying for a grant of probate, we would recommend naming the relevant partners in section 1 and then using the usual wording you would have included on a statement of truth in section 2.16 (“other information”), until such a time as the forms are updated.

If the deceased was married or in a civil partnership when they died, you will need to give the date of the marriage / civil partnership. You would also need to confirm if the deceased was divorced or had a civil partnership dissolved at date of death (and provide the date), as well as confirming the date of any judicial separation. It is also necessary to confirm the name of the court which issued the decree absolute, decree of dissolution of partnership, or decree of judicial separation.

In respect of applications on intestacy, in addition to the above, you will need to have full information about the deceased’s family tree available and be able to ‘clear off’ applicants accordingly – including giving the number of relatives over and under 18 in various categories, both who survived and predeceased the intestate.


HMCTS is encouraging feedback from practitioners on the new-style forms in order to improve their layout. If you have comments, email us at We’ll collate your comments and feed back on your behalf.

Online applications

For those of you who have not completed online applications, you will need to register for ‘MyHMCTS’. This is an online government platform that allows you to manage and submit your applications within civil and family courts and tribunals.

In order to make online applications, you must set up a Pay by Account (PBA). Your firm will also need to be registered before you can create or manage cases. HMCTS aims to complete registration within three days of the date of your application.

Online guidance currently states that you should use either Firefox or Google Chrome as your browser when using MyHMCTS.

Once you have set up your MyHMCTS account, you can create and manage a case online for matters including probate, divorce and financial remedy consent orders. HMCTS has prepared a useful video on how to apply online.

The following types of application for grants of representation are suitable to be made online.

Grant of probate

At the present time, it is possible to apply for a grant of probate using the online service, including where partners in a firm are appointed. None of the executors can be represented by an attorney and all executors appointed under the will must have mental capacity.

Letters of administration

It is only possible for one person to apply for letters of administration, and the applicant must be the spouse / civil partner or child of the deceased. Applications by an attorney using the online service are not permitted at the present time. There must also be no minority or life interest and no other claim on the estate.

In addition to the above, if the deceased was domiciled outside England and Wales:

  • the applicant must be the spouse / civil partner or child of the deceased, and
  • the estate in England and Wales must consist wholly of immovable property.

Letters of administration with will annexed

It is only possible for one person to apply online for letters of administration with will annexed, and the applicant must:

  • be named in the will as a residuary legatee or devisee, and
  • not be represented by an attorney.

All beneficiaries in the will (both who receive a specific gift and who get the residue) must be over 18. There cannot be a life interest. If the deceased was domiciled outside England and Wales:

  • the applicant must be a residuary legatee and devisee named in the will, and
  • the estate in England and Wales must consist wholly of immovable property.

Looking ahead

HMCTS intends that, eventually, all applications for a grant of representation will be made online, including for more complex applications. For the time being, if your application does not meet the above criteria, then you will need to submit paper applications using the new standard application form and post these to either the Oxford or Newcastle registries. However, we would recommend using the online application as soon as possible, so you can familiarise yourself before its use becomes compulsory.