HMRC have launched an online Probate Service which they have previously trialled “by invitation” and now want to roll out to the wider public.
The feedback from those who have used it already has been mostly positive. However, having used some of HMRC’s online services before, we are intrigued to see how it will fare being rolled out to the masses.
On the plus side, it means that you can now apply, pay and swear a Statement of Truth online, meaning a trip to the Solicitor’s office will no longer be necessary for most people.
Some notes on the service:
- The service can be used if the deceased was a permanent resident in England or Wales, if the applicant has the original Will and is named as an Executor, and for up to four joint applicants
- Anyone who struggles to use the online service can access face-to-face support with The Good Things Foundation
- The paper form remains available to anyone who wishes to use it, and this too has been simplified
These improvements and the new service are definitely a step in the right direction for logistics and ease of use for those suffering a bereavement, but this service should not be a replacement for advice and guidance on the actual probate process. It is concerning that this process simplification comes at a time when new Probate Fee’s are awaiting Government approval. Set to increase by as much as 3,370%, while people moving to an online system should reduce the overall operating costs of delivering the service.
We always recommend employing a Professional when completing Probate, as there are a number of pitfalls when completing the Probate process yourself, some of which are:
- Legal Jargon – Wills, Probate Forms and other documents can be confusing and full of legal jargon that is not always easy to translate and fully understand
- Trusts – Trusts are complex legal documents that are either already in existence or are created through the deceased’s Will. Either way, the process will include certain formalities and legal work that requires Professional assistance.
- Tax – Inheritance Tax (IHT) is the most obvious Tax that will be payable, but this may require looking back through historic transactions and may contain complex calculations. Taxes other than IHT may also need to be considered before the Estate can be distributed
- Liability – Executors of Wills become personally liable for mistakes, omissions and losses/debts through the distribution of the Estate, and so for peace of mind and accuracy it is usually best to appoint a Professional
- Paperwork – There is so much paperwork! There is a form for everything and anything and each one is needed in a different scenario. A professional will give you guidance and assistance on what needs to be completed and how to complete it.
Whilst we suggest employing a Professional for probate purposes, we always recommend you appoint a friend or family member you trust as Executor for your Will. This means your Executors will be able to employ their chosen Professional at a rate they agree, rather than being tied to working with a company at what is usually a much higher rate.
Redwood is one of the Souths’ leading Pensions, Investments, Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning providers and we are dedicated to helping families to grow, protect and enjoy their wealth. With our unrivalled knowledge of Estate Planning and Probate, we can advise on any situation. Join us at one of our Free Public Information Seminars: Book online Book Me A Place!, Call us on 01489877 547 or Email email@example.com to book a FREE Initial Meeting with us to review your financial planning needs.