Over the last two years, the Coronavirus pandemic has sadly led to a surge in applications for probate, adding to the pressure on an already overstretched system. The introduction of an online service for probate applications which initially experienced teething problems, a newly centralised Probate Registry and closure of several District Probate Registries, and delays with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) issuing the necessary 421 receipt needed for probate, have all contributed to significant delays for those dealing with the administration of someone’s estate have experienced.
Delays can be a source of real anxiety for executors and administrators who feel pressure to deal with estates assets, such as selling and transferring property and investments, closing bank accounts, and making distributions to beneficiaries. This can be particularly distressing for those who lost much loved members of their family and were thrown headlong into dealing with probate for the very first time during the pandemic.
Nevertheless, a real effort has been made to streamline the process and make it more user friendly. In particular, the IHT department of HMRC are now able to share 421 receipts electronically with the Probate Service. This system was initially introduced during the pandemic, however it looks likely to be retained. Despite this improvement, a physical copy of the IHT account must still be sent to HMRC. For those more complicated estates being dealt with by an IHT department tax specialist, it may be possible to communicate via email. Although this too can cause frustration because it needs to be requested each time, and approval given by all administrators and executors, which could prove problematic. Of course, where you do have agreement, this can lead to huge time savings.
Although the IHT department and Probate Service have experienced problems during the pandemic which has caused disproportionate delays in the probate process, the good news is that improvements have been made.
The last two years have been an incredibly frustrating time for those individuals who struggled to understand the complexities of probate whilst dealing with the limitations of the pandemic. But real progress has been made, from online probate applications to now being able to communicate with HMRC compliance officers via email, the probate process has undergone a minor overhaul and is decisively moving into the future, making slow but definite progress.
Andrew Shirtcliff, Business Development Director of Inheritance at Ampla Finance commented:
“It’s great to see that improvements are being made to help speed up the probate process.
However, we understand that time delays are still a real issue for individuals facing significant Inheritance Tax Bills that need paying but with no source of funds to pay with assets tied up elsewhere.
We created our Executor Loan product to help our partners serve their clients in this situation who have approaching deadlines.
Our product is bespoke, with a loan tailored to client’s individual needs, fast, transparent, but above all fair.”
This article was submitted to be published by Ampla Finance as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills and Probate.