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Notts law firm calls for protection of vulnerable people following announcement applications for probate can now be made online

Roythornes Solicitors expresses concern over new online probate application process

This follows an announcement by The Probate Service that online applications are now being taken from personal applicants.

Probate specialist lawyer, Esther Woodhouse hopes the new system doesn’t open the floodgate for online fraudsters and abuse of vulnerable people.

Esther Woodhouse, Associate Member of Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and Probate specialist lawyer at Roythornes said: “The online service is part of wider Government plans to reform the justice system and deliver a modern service to improve the efficiency of the probate application process.

“Although I agree with the move to enhance the procedure, I am concerned the system could be abused by unscrupulous applicants if there are not effective safeguards in place to protect vulnerable people and their assets.

“Robust measures need to be put in place to ensure applications are only being made by those with the authority to do so. This is very important particularly if an oath is no longer required to be sworn in person by either a solicitor and/or commissioner for oaths. 

“It is also important to note the online process may not be appropriate in all circumstances, for example when executors are not aware of their appointment until after the people who have chosen them to care for their assets have passed away. In these instances, legal assistance is advised to ensure executors fully understand the details of the estates.

“The change in the probate application process should reduce administration costs, and therefore it does not correlate with the proposed hike in probate court fees, which if imposed will cause financial burden to many bereaved families. I would have thought the new online system would lead to a reduction in probate court fees, and would urge the government to reconsider its proposal to put these costs up.”

Applying for probate can be a time-consuming and lengthy process, and it is vital people are provided with the support needed to carry this out correctly. Roythornes has one of the largest private client teams in the Midlands and has considerable expertise in acting for landowners, large scale agri-businesses as well as individuals, both locally and across the whole country.

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