Changes to the online probate service, MyHMCTS, for solicitors and other legal professionals came into effect on 19 August 2021. These changes could simplify and streamline the probate process for executors and administrators. 
 
 
A black gavel use in HM Court and Tribunal service hearings
A laptop with the government's online application page for Lasting Powers of Attorney
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) help to protect you, your family, and your loved ones if you are unable to make decisions for yourself temporarily or in the longer term. 
 
The current process to create and register your LPAs is largely paper-based and very detailed. This is one of the reasons why only 14% of British people have LPAs in place. 
 
The government has now launched a consultation about the use of technology to reform the LPA process, improve access, and speed up the service. 
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has launched a consultation on its proposals to increase probate fees. 
 
The new single fee of £273 will apply to professional and non-professional applicants, regardless of the size of the estate. The MoJ says the new fee reflects the cost of providing the service and is not intended to make a profit. 
 
Currently the fees to apply for a grant of probate for an estate valued over £5,000 are £155 for professionals and £215 for individuals. Estates worth less than £5,000 don’t pay a fee. 
 
picture of a gavel representing HM Courts & Tribunals Service
Grandparents and child reading a book
One in 8 people aged 50 and over have changed their retirement plans because of the pandemic. 
 
According to research from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), 5% will retire earlier and 8% will retire later. 
 
Looking at how older people in the workforce had been affected by the pandemic, the research found that many people had started to reconsider their retirement plans. 
Latest figures show that charitable donations left in Wills increased by more than 60% last year. 
 
More than half of people in the UK don’t have a Will and only three out of 10 people say they have an up-to-date Will. During the pandemic 7% of people made or updated their Will

Why leave gifts to charity? 

Many people are leaving tax-free gifts to charities in their Wills to reduce the amount of inheritance tax (IHT) to be paid on their estate when they die. 
 
Gifts to charitable causes are tax-free, and if you donate 10% of your estate to charity, the amount of inheritance tax due will be reduced from 40% to 36%, above the £325,000 tax-free threshold. 
The Law Society has urged people to include ‘digital assets’ such as emails, photos, social media accounts, websites and domain names, or cryptocurrencies in their Wills
 
The Law Society commissioned a survey which found that more than nine out of ten people who have a Will have not included their digital assets. 
 
Their research showed that three quarters of the 1,000 people questioned didn’t know what happened to their online presence after they die. 
When someone dies, a personal representative (PR) is appointed to manage their estate (money, property, and possessions). If the PR is named in their Will, they are known as the executor. Part of a PR’s role is to close any bank accounts, but sometimes this isn’t straightforward and there can be several challenges. 
Claudia Lawrence, a chef at York University, went missing in 2009. In these circumstances the rule is that someone will be presumed dead when they have been missing for seven or more years. 
 
Claudia’s father, Peter, Kevin Hollinrake MP, and the charity Missing People, campaigned for this rule to be changed. They argued that the family and friends of a missing person should be able to deal with their property and financial affairs before seven years have passed. 
booklet with the title 'wish you were here' re Claudia's law
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