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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Friday 14 October 2016


I'm not sure if you can yet eat and park your car online, but it will come. After all,  we already have bankruptcy online and online court hearings and divorce applications will be with us in due course. Whilst we wait for this to come about, they've thought of another online activity. Applying to a probate registry for probate or letters of administration following a death.

An application for probate is made where the deceased left a will. If no will was left then the laws of intestacy dictate who gets what and the application is then for letters of administration. Once the application is granted to whoever is entitled to make it, the deceased's estate can be wound up.

Winding up the estate is not as daunting as is often believed. Unless the deceased left millions or there are complications such as legal challenges to the will or on how the intestacy rules would work or in locating assets, the application for probate or letters of administration can be made by you personally without incurring the fees of a lawyer or other professional.  You'll find a helpful guide on how to go about it at GOV.UK Taking legal advice on drawing a will in the first place is another matter. It is highly desirable.

The intention is that ultimately all applications for probate and letters of administration will be made online. For the moment they will be trying out the software involved with a pilot project as from 1 November 2016. From those making online enquiries about procedure to the Probate Service, around two a day in relatively straightforward cases will be invited to go ahead on an online basis. That number will progressively increase. To accommodate this, the Non-Contentious Probate (Amendment) Rules 2016 have been made but this is not recommended reading unless you are a lawyer or funeral director.

For info about how to challenge a will or how intestacy works where  a relative of yours has passed away - and, also how to counter the possibility of such a challenge - take a look at Breaking Law, chapter 32.