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Could Probate Be Going Digital?

The probate process is a rather old fashioned one. It’s been the same for decades, and although many people complain about how long it takes – many months in some cases, certainly weeks in others – up until now nothing has been done about it.

But that might be about to change.

Last month, the government launched a beta version of a new online probate service, designed to make probate a lot faster and easier to deal with. At the moment, it is a private system and it is being tested, but after this initial six month test it is hoped that it will roll out to the general public who should be able to go through probate digitally.

The changes have come after the probate service, HM Courts and Tribunals Service, and a target group of solicitors came together to discuss the clear problems associated with the probate process. There are around 280,000 new probate applications each year, and if the majority of those could be done online, it would save many weeks of misery for the families of the deceased.

The online form would be for private individuals or for solicitors, depending on what the executors were tasked with doing. This would mean that those who prefer for a solicitor to carry out the work on their behalf can still take advantage of the online system, vastly reducing the time it takes for the probate application and process to be completed.

The online version even includes a digital statement of truth, which means that no one is required to swear an oath. There will soon be an online payment function too, meaning that everything can be done in one visit to the website, completing probate in days or perhaps even hours rather than weeks and months.

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