In a world that revolves so much around technology, it is only right that the legal sector keeps up. This is why all probate applications made by solicitors would have to be conducted online under recent proposals from the Ministry of Justice, encouraging practitioners to go step forward into digitisation.
What exactly is probate?
Probate is the process of dealing with the estate of someone who has died, which generally means clearing their debts and distributing their assets in accordance with their will (or the rules of intestacy in a case where a person dies without a will).
People are able to do this themselves, but it can be fairly complicated as there are lots of forms to fill out and gathering of assets to be done. Where the case is more complicated, it is recommended that professionals, such as ourselves, are brought in to help.
Probate involves a series of steps and in the past it has mostly been a paper based process, and was solely paper based until 2017. However, the government proposes changing non-contentious probate rules to make it mandatory for solicitors and other probate practitioners to move towards online completions.
So far, it has worked…
Online systems have been trialled and tested when it comes to probate applications. Beta versions of the digital systems were met with positive acceptance. The online service for legal professionals was rolled out to be available to all practitioners in October 2019, following the Beta phase’s successful pilot. User feedback shows the majority of users are satisfied with the online service.
User experience, ease of access and faster response times are all part of the government’s plan to make digital applications the norm, relying on technology to create a more effective system for court users and generate efficiencies for the taxpayer.
The hope is that by making these digital systems mandatory, people will adapt to them quicker. A spokesperson from the Ministry of Justice said:
‘Mandating the process will accelerate it and encourage users to adapt and take the necessary steps for the transition while helping to achieve the savings which HM Courts & Tribunals Service needs to deliver in fulfilling the requirements of the investment in the HMCTS reform programme.’
Not too popular yet…
While the trials have been met positively and those using the online system seem to like it, it is not yet the norm. In June this year – despite lockdown – just a fifth of probate applications from solicitors were made online.
However, due to COVID-19 and the desire for a more online focussed legal world, it is expected that this number will soon rise.
What do we think?
Here at Lisa’s Law, we are not afraid of technology, in fact we welcome it. If the system is faster, easier to use, and more eco-friendly than using paper, then we are all for it. Our team of legal professionals already work with an ethos that places sustainability as a high priority. Anything that can be done online with the same ease, and in many cases greater ease and efficiency than on paper, should be considered a positive.
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