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Simplifying Probate Applications: An Update from HMRC

The probate process has long been regarded as complex and long winded particularly in terms of waiting times solicitors experience when submitting applications. Less complex estates have in recent years been submitted via online probate portal, with more complex cases still being required to be done by post in paper format.  This remains the case.  Previously, when applying for probate where an IHT 400 tax account was required, solicitors were also required to send in a form IHT 421- basically a summary of asset values when submitting the account to HMRC. This step was time-consuming, as it would require the solicitor to wait 20 working days whilst HMRC completed and stamped the relevant part of the IHT421 summary, which was then sent directly to the Probate Registry. Thereafter, the solicitor was then able to submit the probate application, adding to the overall duration of the process.

However, since 17 January 2024, HMRC has updated its requirements and streamlined the process for submitting probate applications by eliminating the necessity for the IHT 421 summary. Instead of the traditional paper-based exchange, HMRC will now issue a unique code to the solicitor along with the gross and net values of the estate by letter. This enables solicitors to digitally submit the probate application through the HM online portal. If HMRC cannot provide a unique code, a letter will then be issued to the solicitor setting out the next steps.

The introduction of the new process will eliminate the ability for probate applications to be submitted prematurely. Under the old system, applications could be submitted before the solicitor had waited the required 20 working days for HMRC to process and stamp the IHT421 summary which led to delays in marrying up applications not yet in receipt of the IHT421 stamped copy.

As the legal world continues to evolve with technological advancements, this update from HMRC should be a step in the right direction, promising a more streamlined experience for navigating the complexities of estate management. However, time will tell if this change will, in reality reduce the delays currently experienced by practitioners.

Estate administration, particularly the tax requirements continue to be a complex and difficult process- if you need help navigating the process please call Adcocks today, Solicitor Kerry Davies will be only too happy to help 01543 442100.

 

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