Legacies legal news round-up | February 2024

In this article we discuss some of the recent legacy legal updates that professionals should be aware of.

Remote Execution of Wills

During the pandemic, private practitioners had to be creative when it came to witnessing wills whilst maintaining social distance. The Wills Act 1837 (Electronic Communications) (Amendment)(Coronavirus) Order 2020 was introduced to alleviate those issues and allowed the execution of wills to be witnessed via a video link rather than in person. The amendment to the requirements of The Wills Act 1837 came into force on 28 September 2020 but was never intended to be a permanent amendment and came to an end on 31 January 2024. At the time of writing, witnesses to the execution of a Will must be physically present in the same room as the testator when the will is signed.

First IHT205s, now IHT421s

Continuing the reform of the tax reporting process for estates, from 17 January 2024, where form IHT400 needs to be submitted to HMRC, it is no longer necessary to complete form IHT421. This was essentially a summary of the overall tax position of the estate and confirmation of what payment of Inheritance Tax was being made on submission of the IHT400.

Before 17 January 2024, the Probate Registry would require form IHT421 stamped by HMRC to confirm that the applicants of a Grant had complied with the estate's respective inheritance tax reporting (and payment if required) before a Grant could be issued. Following the introduction of online grant applications, the Probate Registry had to not only match up the incoming original documents from the applicant but also incoming stamped form IHT421s from HMRC. According to the Probate Registry, this has been a factor in the ongoing delays in processing Grant applications. The solution therefore is to remove that step altogether.

Applicants will now be relying on HMRC to issue a code upon receipt of the IHT400. This code must be included on form PA1P for paper applications; for online applications you cannot get past a certain stage in the process without entering the code. It will not be possible to submit the Grant application without a code.

This author hopes that delays at the Probate Registry are not replaced with delays at HMRC waiting for the code to be issued.

If you'd like to know more or require advice on the information in this article, please contact a member of the Legacies Team.

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