Changes to the probate process – what does it mean for executors and administrators

Hillier Hopkins LLP

Chartered Accountants & Tax Advisers

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HMRC has recently made changes to the process for obtaining probate, making it simpler for executors and administrators, also called personal representatives.

With that code the net values of an estate are submitted to the HM Courts & Tribunals Service online portal when making the probate application.

Previously, personal representatives applying for probate had to submit two forms, IHT400 and IHT421, and then wait for HMRC to return the stamped IHT421 to the probate registry. Only then could a personal representative apply for probate, typically waiting 20 or more days until the probate registry received the stamped IHT421.

This complex and overly bureaucratic process caused frequent delays with personal representatives submitting probate applications before the stamped IHT421 was received. HM Courts & Tribunals Service estimates that some 9,000 ‘stops’ to probate applications were due to forms being submitted incorrectly.

With one less form to complete this is no doubt a positive change to the process. However, concerns still remain that it will not remove delays as executors must now wait for the code from HMRC before they can prepare the probate application. Concerns have been raised surrounding the apparent deterioration of the UK postal system.

Any delay in obtaining probate is likely to result in further delays in the executor being able to distribute the deceased’s assets to the beneficiaries named in the will.

It should also be remembered that where any assets are held in trust, it is the trustees and not the deceased that are the legal owners. Therefore, there is no requirement to wait until probate has been obtained and IHT paid before a distribution to the beneficiaries is made.

Within the Hillier Hopkins group we are licensed to carry out the reserved legal activity of probate and estate administration, as well as handling the preparation and submission of IHT and other tax returns, so if you require any assistance following the death of a loved one please do not hesitate to contact us.

Do you need extra information?

Meeten Nathwani - Principal at Hillier Hopkins

Meeten joined Hillier Hopkins in 2001 and is qualified as a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Chartered Institute of Taxation and the Association of Tax Technicians.

Contact Meeten at or on +44(0)207 004 7126