Bereavement is an extremely difficult time but during such uncertainty when services have been significantly reduced, these feelings can exacerbate. Rest assured that Marcus Bishop Associates’ probate services are still continuing despite social distancing measures.
Probate is a vital legal requirement and will continue to remain an essential service during the
coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown restrictions.
That being said, HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has announced that remote working will mean that applications are taking longer to process and ways of working will need to adapt.
HMCTS is advising professional practitioners and personal applicants to apply for probate online using their MyHMCTS service. While the UK is working remotely, online applications will enable all probate registry employees to access the application from home, helping to create an efficient and faster process.
Probate registries are no longer accepting face to face interviews and are currently working with skeleton staff or have closed to comply with social distancing restrictions. Therefore, you should not attend any meetings in person. Instead, online email communication, as opposed to telephone queries, are preferred given the limited number of employees.
What do I need to do before probate can be granted?
1. Secure a medical certificate
A medical certificate signed by a doctor is needed before the probate process can start. If the deceased died in hospital, the certificate will be taken care of by the hospital. Otherwise, the deceased’s doctor will need to be contacted.
In these troubling times, given restrictions and increased pressure on medical professionals, this may take a little longer than usual.
2. Register the Death
All deaths should be registered within five days using the closest registry office in order to obtain a death certificate. You will need to take the medical certificate along with any identification documents belonging to the deceased that you have access to.
3. Ascertain whether the deceased had a Will
Finding the Will, if there is one is a crucial part of the probate process. In addition to highlighting the express wishes of the deceased, it will also establish who has been appointed to the role of executor or
personal representative tasked with administering the estate. It will be their job to ensure all liabilities
and assets are calculated and distributed to creditors and the beneficiaries laid out in the Will.
If the deceased has failed to explain where a copy
of the Will can be found, loved ones could try the National Wills Registry which will check to see if a Will had been made.
If the deceased died without a Will, the intestacy laws will establish who is best placed to administer the estate and will decide who the beneficiaries will be.
4. Collate paperwork, passwords and digital records
Hunting down the paper trail a person leaves behind can be increasingly difficult. Gathering all essential records and documents will help to create a more accurate probate process. All documents that will help to notify organisations like the DVLA, post office, banks, creditors etc. of the death should be found during this stage.
By this stage, the executor will have the information necessary to apply for a Grant of Probate. Obviously, the process to this point is difficult, time-consuming and often overwhelming. Our specialist team can be on hand to offer bespoke, accurate advice to minimise delays and ensure the estate is administered smoothly.