The Introduction of Probate Forms PA1P and PA1A

It was announced earlier this year that the next steps were to be taken in the modernisation of the Probate Registries. There would be a move away from the concise Statements of Truth which professionals had previously completed to make applications for Grants of Representation, and their bulkier counterparts - forms PA1, which personal applicants were required to complete, to combined forms for both professional and personal use. Two new forms to make an application would be introduced, being for estates where a Will was left (PA1P) and estates where there was no Will (PA1A). The forms would attempt to unify all of the relevant information the Probate Registry would require to successfully issue a Grant and would be required where paper applications were being made after the 18th May 2020.

Anybody familiar with the pre-18th May process will appreciate that the current Statements of Truth lodged by professionals making Grant applications are based on the standard wording of the past Oaths that were required. The Statements require personal information about the deceased, confirm the date of any Will/Codicil that was made or if no Will, sets out the legal basis on which the person making the application is entitled to do so. The Statements then contain declarations as to the status of the person making the application, whether there is any settled land in the estate and then the net and gross values of the assets. The Statements were typically 1 - 2 pages long, with the professional preparing the Statement assumed to have investigated all implications of the information they had been provided with to make the application, before submitting it.

Forms PA1 required all of the information as set out above, but also more personal details regarding the deceased's family and personal relationships, running to some 12 pages long. The purpose of this longer form it seemed, would be to extract all of the same information required for the Statements of Truth, but whereas the professionals drafting the Statements did so with a mind to the legal reasoning behind the required information being included, forms PA1 simply requested the information without including the legal justification for doing so.

Presently, separate PA1P and PA1A forms exist depending on whether it is a professional or personal application but the move to amalgamate these is hoped to be completed in the coming weeks. It is hard to predict what the new combined forms will look like however the PA1P and PA1A currently resemble the PA1 forms far more that the Statements of Truth but ask for more information and documentation than previously required for the PA1. 

The impact of their introduction will mainly be felt by practitioners initially therefore, who have not been familiar with completing forms PA1.Moving forwards, it is likely that professionals will now have to take much more detailed information regarding the deceased's family and relatives, including details of those family members who have predeceased and survived the deceased, their dates of birth and contact details. Where this previously may not have been necessary at all, the new forms require at least some of this information and so at the outset, full family histories should be requested by professionals making an application for a Grant.

Where professionals are drafting Wills for clients and the client has instructed their firm as executors, it would be prudent to obtain all of the information required by the forms during the course of those instructions, so that as much detail can be obtained whilst the testator is alive, than having issues locating that information later on.

Whilst separate representations have previously been required to deal with more complex applications such as Grants De Bonis Non and Double Grants, it appears that these type of applications can now be made on the new forms but currently, on the professional form only with this not being an option on the personal form. It is yet to be seen whether the forms themselves will be enough to successfully obtain the more complex Grants, or whether further documentation will be requested but also, whether this part will be included in the new combined forms once produced. If not, the inference is that professionals should be appointed to make these applications separately, though that should be recommended in any event, due to their complexity.

At the moment it is not clear whether the changes will lead to an increase or decrease in the number of personal or professional applications that are made. As the forms are longer than previously required there is the potential that more professional instructions will occur as a result. It would be interesting to see if there are any reports produced in future which state the number of forms initially rejected once submitted and whether these were mainly from professional or personal applicants.

The Law Society has also suggested that the current probate application fees will change to one fee, as opposed to the different fees depending on whether it is a professional or personal application that is being made. To date, there has not been any update on this.For advice in dealing with all aspects of the probate process, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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