Following on from last week’s blog about ongoing delays to the probate application process, we have had another update about MyHMCTS, the government’s online service for legal professionals, in the form of a press release from the Law Society on 23 July. It outlines some changes that will take effect from 19 August 2021, based on feedback from lawyers and probate practitioners.
Also in last week’s blog, we outlined some of the issues that users have been finding particularly problematic over the past months, so it will certainly be interesting to see whether the changes will resolve any of these.
From 19 August, the following changes to the online service will take effect:
- All parts of an online application can be amended prior to submission, including the probate practitioner’s details.
- Applications where only a notarial or court sealed copy of the Will exists can now be made through MyHMCTS.
- Trust corporations will be able to apply for a grant of probate through MyHMCTS.
- New prompts will clearly identify the title of the executor, including partners, members, shareholders and directors in a firm or successor firm.
- Other prompts will help to better account for executors who aren’t applying for probate, hopefully reducing the chances of applications being stopped.
- A death certificate will no longer be needed for any pre-deceased executors.
- The legal statement will have an improved title and clearer wording.
- It will also automatically contain the names of the applying executors and the probate practitioner.
- It can now be signed (including with a digital signature) by the probate practitioner on behalf of their client and any of the applying executors.
- It can be digitally uploaded to a MyHMCTS application or sent by post.
Furthermore, a glitch that was causing probate practitioners’ details to be overwritten in the application has now been rectified.
An update on performance issues
The Law Society has also reported that HMCTS has hired and is training new staff, and is working on redistributing resources to improve waiting times for stopped cases and to improve call handling. This will hopefully resolve some of the performance issues that have led to lengthy delays over the past months. Due to this reshuffle, however, the HMCTS team predicted at the time this press release was published that they would not be able to start tackling the backlog until August.
Do I have to do anything?
Essentially, the changes mean that any application that isn’t submitted by 19 August won’t be able to progress and a new application will have to be created once the changes have gone live. Therefore, if you are working with a probate practitioner and have an application ongoing, you may wish to talk to them to see whether they will be able to submit the application prior to the update. If not, you may experience a slight delay while your probate practitioner waits for the changes to take effect, before starting your application on the improved system.
If you have an application ongoing with Woodfines’ Wills & Probate team, please contact them on 0344 967 2505 or email the fee earner dealing with your matter directly for more information.