We continue to meet with HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and other key stakeholders to review the status of the probate service in light of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

Some key updates from our latest meeting are listed below.

For full details, see our meeting summary

Impact of COVID-19

HMCTS has assured us that probate is one of the best-placed services to respond to the impact of COVID-19 and it’s issuing as many grants per week as previously.

However, since lockdown came into force, HMCTS has received fewer applications (about half the usual number). This trend has been seen in both personal applications and solicitor applications.

Contingency plans

HMCTS expects an increase in probate applications due to deaths resulting from COVID-19, as well as demand from legal professionals who have been unable to work as normal. To combat this, extra staff members have been trained to deal with probate applications.

The new paper forms for solicitors will be bulk-scanned from the week of 18 May, and staff will be able to access these remotely.

Online service and new forms

The deadline to submit old-style applications is Monday 18 May. Once this deadline has passed, HMCTS plans to reject statements of truth, as it will no longer be able to scan the old-style forms in bulk.

HMCTS has noted a slight increase in legal professionals using the online service to submit digital applications. It encourages more solicitors to adopt this approach.

If you are not yet using the online service, you’ll need to use the new forms. So far, the take up of the new paper form is around 50%.

Partners who are named as executors can now submit online applications. Those who cannot yet apply online, such as trust corporations, will be added to the process soon.

HM Revenue & Customs plans to start sending IHT421 forms directly to the Probate Registry within 15 days of issue.