Prior to 27th November 2018, before making an application for a Grant of Representation (“the Grant”), an estate’s Personal Representatives were required to swear an oath. This would involve attending the local Probate Registry or a commissioner of oaths (such as a solicitor’s office) and swearing, often on a bible or other religious text, to confirm the Personal Representative’s right to administer the estate, that the information provided in the application is true and correct, and that the estate will be distributed according to the terms of either the Will or the Rules of Intestacy. The application would then be submitted to the Probate Registry for the Grant to be issued.
Following amendment to the Non-Contentious Probate Rules on 27th November 2018, this act of swearing the oath has now been replaced by a document known as a Statement of Truth. In doing so, one of the more tedious aspects of the probate administration process has been simplified – at least, that was the intention.
In broad terms, the Statement of Truth serves a similar function to that of the oath – it sets out the details of the deceased, the person or persons applying for the responsibility of administering the deceased’s estate, the net and gross totals of the estate for Inheritance Tax, the basis of the Personal Representative’s right to apply for and take the Grant, and any additional considerations the Probate Registry is required to know in order to issue the Grant. The main change is the removal of the need to swear the oath in the presence of a solicitor or commissioner for oaths, and to mark any Will. The document is simply prepared and signed by the persons making the statement, with any Will referred to as being “now produced to the Court”. The wording of the oath itself is replaced by a statement.
The Probate Registry has reported an increase in the number of errors in the applications submitted since the introduction of the Statement of Truth. The errors can result in considerable delay in issuing of the Grant, pushing back the point at which debts can be settled and gifts paid to waiting beneficiaries. In some worst-case scenarios, the value of shares held by the deceased may drop considerably in the intervening period before they can be sold, or a time-sensitive property transaction could be delayed and ultimately fall through. It is therefore imperative that Statement of Truth is prepared correctly, with all relevant information presented in the correct format.
Parker Bullen is committed to ensuring that the most current rules and procedures for estate and trust administration are complied with, and that you won’t be tripped up by changes in the law. For further information, please contact a member of our Private Client team on 01722 412000.