NI: New online portal modernises probate process
A new online probate portal, which aims to simplify the application process for people dealing with a person’s estate after their death, has gone live.
The Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service (NICTS) developed the new online service as part of its modernisation programme and launched it yesterday morning.
Justice Minister Naomi Long said: “The new online probate portal very much embodies what we are trying to achieve with the modernisation of our courts and tribunals services.
“The process for applying for a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration has always been paper-based since it was launched 163 years ago but as technology evolves, there is an expectation that more and more public services will be available online, including those provided by our courts and tribunals.”
She added: “The portal has been developed in consultation with citizens and with legal practitioners with the aim of making the process of applying for probate simpler and less time consuming.
“This courts and tribunals modernisation pilot project will be reviewed and evaluated to inform future services as NICTS develops modern, innovative and collaborative courts and tribunals services that are less complex, more efficient and more accessible.”
Karen Ward, chief modernisation officer in NICTS, said: “The new probate online portal is the first redesigned service under our modernisation programme.
“The online portal we have developed simplifies and modernises the probate application process and is very much in line with the commitment in the Modernisation Vision statement for courts and tribunals, launched in March 2021, to create modern, accessible citizen focused courts and tribunals services.”
The portal, developed by the Department of Finance’s enterprise digital development team in conjunction with NICTS’s modernisation team, probate staff and service users, offers a modernised online application process for probate services with features that include:
- The ability to complete a probate application online, including the payment of fees and the uploading of key supporting documents.
- Built-in validation on the online portal and step by step sections to assist with the accurate completion of applications. This should reduce the number of applications that need to be returned due to error.
- The ability for applicants and solicitors to track the progress of their case online with regular status updates.
- Access to the portal 24 hours a day/7 days a week on any device (mobile phone, PC, laptop, tablet) enabling the user to complete the application process at a time convenient to them.
- Simplified language throughout for ease of navigation and completion of application.
- A statement of truth (legal declaration) is populated automatically using answers provided during the application process.
Whether applying online or using new standardised forms, the requirement to attend a personal interview in Belfast or Derry as part of the application process has been removed. Legislative changes have also been completed to replace the swearing of an oath with the signing of a statement of truth.