Probate applications submitted by solicitors must be made online from today, in a government push to make the service cheaper and more efficient.
Under a statutory instrument laid last month, legal professionals must use the online system in the majority of probate case, as opposed to submitting paper forms. For more complex cases involving multiple claimants where the deceased has no will, paper forms will still be allowed to ensure that proper manual checks take place.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the reforms should see around three quarters of professional user applications move online.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: ‘Our efficient online probate services are simpler, quicker and more reliable, and reduce the stress on grieving families.’ It added that the probate reform programme is expected to generate savings of £20 million over a 10 year period.
However, the Gazette understands that the digital platform used by HM Courts & Tribunals Service is not compatible with older web browsers such as Internet Exploer commonly used by small and medium sized firms. This has meant some solicitors have struggled to submit digital applications.
Law Society president David Greene said: 'Whilst there are clear benefits to having all professional probate applications online – such as that the online system provides instant feedback – solicitors have also experienced some teething problems with the new system and we have communicated these concerns to HMCTS directly.
'Any IT system will inevitably experience glitches from time to time and it is important there are fully developed and clearly understood contingency arrangements in place for when such failures occur.'