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Simplifying Probate Applications: A Welcome Update from HMRC

In the realm of legal practices, especially in matters involving estate management and probate applications, the process has long been known for its complexity and the lengthy waiting times practitioners face. Previously, when applying for probate where an IHT 400 tax account was required, a practitioner also needed to send the IHT 421 summary when submitting the account to HMRC. This step was time-consuming, as it would require the practitioner 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 practitioner 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 simplified 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 practitioner along with the gross and net values of the estate by letter. This enables practitioners to digitally submit the probate application through the HM Courts and Tribunals Service online portal. If HMRC cannot provide a unique code, a letter will then be issued to the practitioner stating 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 practitioner had waited the required 20 working days for HMRC to process and stamp the IHT421 summary. 

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





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