The Probate Professionals User Group meeting update took place this week and revealed that HMCTS (HM Courts & Tribunals Service ) have confirmed that they are aware of the concern raised by some probate professionals that they are unable to produce the Legal Statement until the code from HMRC has been inputted.
This week, The Law Society, The Association of Lifetime Lawyers, STEP, ICAEW, CILEX, Remember A Charity, Institute Of Legacy Management and other leading charities meet with HMCTS for a feedback session following the changes to the IHT421 process between HMCTS and HMRC.
HMCTS are in a review period with the new process and are collating feedback from practitioners and the various organisations who attend the professional user group meetings. Once all feedback has been collated HMCTS will then consider any suitable changes to the process.
HMCTS are aware of a small number of practitioners inputting “fake codes” into the system to produce Legal Statements and politely, request that professional users refrain from these activities. Ian Bond, Partner at Irwin Mitchell and member of The Law Society Wills and Equity Committee, stated that solicitors should be reminded that the code they provide forms part of the application and is covered by the statement of truth – therefore the deliberate use of any false information on the submitted application would be a breach of the statement of truth.
This comes as HMCTS recently revealed the continued delay of probate applications. For the 27,006 grants of probate issued in November, the average timeline from submission to grant was 15.8 weeks – showing an increase from October which was 15.2, according to the data. Bond added:
“Like all organisations present, The Law Society welcomes the continued engagement of HM Courts & Tribunals Service with the User Group, especially in taking feedback on the new process of dealing with the code issued by HMRC to be included on the application to HMCTS for the grant to be issued. The new process should result in less stopped applications from HMCTS; over 9,000 stops last year alone on practitioner sending applications before the 421 issued by HMRC. Almost 1/6 of all calls received by HMRC in the same period were practitioner calls with 421 queries. Less calls and stops means more resources to issue grant applications; at the end of the day all professionals want is the grant applications to be issued correctly, efficiently and in a timely manner.
This new process is one of a number of steps being taken by HMCTS to reduce the backlog of applications, to bring down waiting times, and to ensure greater accuracy and efficiency in the process.”