After months of testing the government have launched online probate applications in the hope of making it easier for lay executors to apply for probate. Whilst this new service is likely to be welcomed by many, it is at the moment only open to executors who are working alone – so joint executors will still have to submit a paper application which may cause some confusion. This digital service is also not currently open to probate professionals probably because these cases are likely to be more complex and throw up unpredictable issues that cannot be dealt with in a simple online form. The government website tentatively advises that executors should contact them first to see if the online form is appropriate for them.
Those executors who opt to apply for probate online should approach it with care, particularly where the value of the estate assets and inheritance tax are concerned; if you make a mistake whilst managing or distributing an estate you can be held personally liable. Executors Indemnity Insurance protects executors against mistakes and ideally this cover should be taken out as soon as you take on the role of executor – usually the date of death of the person who has named you as executor. The cost of this insurance can be reimbursed from the estate as it is part of the reasonable costs incurred by the executor. Further details are available here.
The probate service realise that the process of applying for probate can be frighteningly complex so as well as trying to provide clearer application forms they are also operating a helpline service and it makes sense to take advantage of this if you are not employing a professional to deal with the estate.
For further information visit the Government website by clicking here or call 0300 123 1072 – the helpline is open from Monday to Friday.
About the author
Guy has worked in the insurance profession for over thirty years, initially in the London Insurance market as a broker and subsequently as a Lloyd’s Members’ Agent. He set up private client insurance brokers Castleacre in 2005. Castleacre is the first company in the UK to offer indemnity insurance to lay executors – in direct response to clients who had become executors but could not find suitable cover on the market. If you have would like to know more about executor liability insurance or to contact Guy click here. If you wish to view the Executors Insurance blog click here.