Press release

Probate applications made simpler and easier with online service

People applying for probate can now do so from the comfort of their own home, thanks to the expansion of an online service.

Person using a laptop
  • Bereaved can now apply for probate online
  • New service is simpler and more efficient
  • Part of a £1bn programme of court reform

The service enables people to apply, pay and swear a statement of truth online –saving time and offering convenience to those dealing with a bereavement.

It also means that, for most people, a visit to a probate registry or solicitor’s office is no longer needed, speeding up the process while making it more straightforward and efficient.

HMCTS chief executive, Susan Acland-Hood, said:

Making probate simpler and more convenient, and removing the need to attend a probate registry and swear an oath in person, helps bereaved people at a very challenging time - those who have tested our new service have told us how much difference it makes. I am delighted we are now able to offer this new, simpler way of doing probate to the public at large. It is part of the work we’re doing to make the justice system easier to navigate for everyone.

The service has already been successfully trialled “by invitation” and it is hoped that by making it widely available to the public more people will benefit. 93% of those who have used it so far were satisfied or very satisfied with the service.

One person who has already done so is Tony Donoghue from East Yorkshire. Mr Donoghue, a managing director, applied for probate online while dealing with his father’s estate. The 55-year-old said:

It’s easy to use, fast and convenient. I found it so efficient. It’s exactly what you want from an online government system – if only everything could be this simple.

Once I sent everything off, I was sent the grant of probate within a week. I think that really reinforced for me what a good and efficient service it is.

HMCTS will add more features in time – including the ability to apply if the deceased did not leave a will. Feedback is encouraged and changes and improvements will be made where needed.

The service is part of HMCTS’s ambitious £1bn programme of court reform, which is bringing new technology and modern ways of working to the justice system. This includes a new fully accessible online small money claims service – with more than 39,000 claims made since its launch in March and user satisfaction at 90% - and a new system for applying for divorce online, which has cut errors in application forms from 40% to less than 1%.

Notes to editors

  • The service can be used if the deceased was a permanent resident in England or Wales, if the applicant has the original will and is named as an executor, and for up to four joint applicants.
  • Anyone who struggles to use the online service can access face-to-face support with The Good Things Foundation.
  • The paper form remains available to anyone who wishes to use it, and this too has been simplified.
  • For further information or to source case studies contact the MoJ press office.
Published 17 January 2019