Changes are afoot in the way grants of probate work, HM Courts & Tribunals Service announced this week.

People applying for grants of probate online are now to have their cases dealt with by experts trained in probate who will be located at a regional centre. Birmingham Probate Registry is to close on 31 August, and the Birmingham Courts and Tribunal Service Centre will now process all online applications, while paper applications received by post are to be re-directed to the Newcastle Registry Office.

Earlier in the year, representatives from STEP, the global professional association for practitioners who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning, met with the courts and tribunals service (HMCTS) to discuss the substantial backlog in applications and disruption to the probate service.

Technical glitches

HMCTC said a move to digital software had been scheduled for January but was delayed until March because of technical glitches. This and the spike in probate applications had caused the backlog.

Staff at the existing probate registry based at the Priory Courts in Birmingham have been redeployed within the courts and tribunal service.

Service centres are being established as part of an HMCTS £1 billion reform programme. HMCTS claims they will bring together expertise under one roof and the technology can be used to solve any queries more efficiently.

HMCTS says following the launch of its new digital probate service in July last year, more than 200,000 applications have been received and that users have scored their satisfaction with the service at 92 percent.

Digital amendments to re-issued grants

In addition, HMCTS introduced digital amendments to grants, known as re-issued grants. This refers to grants that have been amended by the probate service if the original had a mistake on it, or if the information that needs to be displayed on the original has been changed.

As reported by the Law Society, the old style is still valid, but the changes are that new, re-issued grants are no longer to be amended by hand; they will have a sentence on the grant which says – “Amended and re-issued date pursuant to Registrar’s direction XXX/XX”. Therefore, handwritten amendments will no longer be included and the re-issued grant will take the form of a clean, digital version.


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