Category Archives: Your Probate Questions

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Liverpool Wirral Coroner

Families of bereaved people across Liverpool and Wirral will receive better coroner services in the future.

Merseyside Coroner

Families of bereaved people across Liverpool and Wirral will receive better coroner services in the future Justice Minister Simon Hughes has announced.

The permanent merger of the Liverpool and Wirral coroner services will greatly improve coroner services in the north west, and generate efficiencies for the local authorities affected.

The needs of grieving people will be firmly at the heart of the coroners system – with an emphasis on speeding up inquests and providing more consistent services.

The government is committed to raising standards of coroner services across England and Wales. Merging Liverpool and Wirral services is a significant step in doing so, and will help to end what has previously been described as a ‘postcode lottery’.

Justice Minister Simon Hughes said:

We want to make sure grieving families receive the highest level of service when they are most in need, which is why we are determined that inquests are conducted quickly and consistently right across the country.

The merger of the Liverpool and Wirral coroners areas are part of the reforms we set in motion two years ago to prioritise the needs of bereaved people while cutting costs for local authorities.

No courts or inquest venues will close as a result of the merger.

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) supports and encourages the amalgamation of smaller or part-time coroner areas to create more fully-loaded caseloads for full-time coroners, to promote consistency over a wider area and generate efficiencies for the local authorities which fund coroner services.

As a result of the merger the Liverpool and Wirral Senior Coroner will receive additional resources to support the caseload and maintain quality of coronial services.

MOJ has carried out considerable reforms in the past 2 years to improve coroner services across England and Wales and increase consistency of practice between coroner areas. These include:

  • creation of a new national code of practice – setting out what service and standards bereaved people can expect from coroners
  • appointment of the first ever Chief Coroner of England and Wales (His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC) to oversee the coroner system
  • requiring inquests to be completed within 6 months of the date on which the coroner is made aware of the death, unless there are good reasons not to
  • requiring coroners to notify those who are bereaved within a week of setting the date for the inquest
  • requiring coroners to notify those who are bereaved of the date of the inquest within a week of setting the date
  • providing greater access to documents and evidence, such as post-mortem reports, before the inquest takes place, to enable bereaved families to prepare for the hearing
  • permitting less invasive post-mortem examinations
  • speeding up the release of bodies after post-mortem examination, and requiring coroners to notify the deceased’s next of kin or personal representative if the body cannot be released within 28 days

Government’s New Wills Archive

More than 6 million searches of the government’s new archive of wills have been made in just 1 month.

Tens of thousands of people have gone online to buy copies of the wills of family members, famous names and historical figures by using the new digital service.

(Please don’t ring The Probate Department Ltd about this – we’re a private company, not a Government Department.  The link to search for a Will which has been probated is at the foot of the page.)

The archive contains more than 41 million wills held by the Probate Registry since 1858 when the documents became public records.

It includes the last wishes of leaders and high profile musicians and writers like John Lennon, JRR Tolkien and Freddie Mercury.

They also include wartime leader Winston Churchill, whose death was 50 years ago this week.

Since the launch on Saturday 27 December almost 25,000 wills have been bought, showing the strength of interest in the documents.

Justice Minister Lord Faulks said:

I am delighted so many people have taken advantage of our unique archive of wills and are looking into the histories of their families.

This is an incredible resource and I’m not surprised in the slightest that it has captured the public imagination so strongly.

Now we can all learn about the last wishes of our long lost great aunts from the comfort of our living room.

The innovative project has been carried out by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and storage and information management company Iron Mountain.

The project is a great example of how the government is opening up public services. It means requests can be dealt with quickly and without people needing to visit the Probate Registry to search archives in person.

The availability of the database of 41 million wills follows the first stage of opening up the archive when soldiers’ wills were made available in 2013. There have since been more than 2 million searches of that archive.

The latest phase in the programme means that people can now request a specific will online and receive an electronic copy within 10 working days.

Creating the wills archive is part of ongoing work to transform HMCTS to make it a modern, efficient, digital service which is easy for the public to access.

More than 150 cases have been filmed in the Court of Appeal since the government changed the law to allow court broadcasting in 2013 and £160 million is being invested in digital technology for courtrooms including video links, wi-fi and improved IT systems to end the system’s reliance on paper.

You can search for a will here.

Copy Wills Online Easier Quicker

Copy Wills Can Now Be Ordered Online.

We had an interesting issue with an executor the other day: one of the beneficiaries of a Will managed to get a copy Will online before the executor had the Grant of Probate.  He had intended to explain everything to the beneficiaries as soon as the Will had been confirmed by way of the grant, so it was a bit embarrassing for him!   So it you have a contentious case, it may not always be prudent to keep people in the dark!

How did this happen?  It is all part of the Governments drive to digitise everything.  Around 41 million wills has now been digitised for public access.  One suspects that new Wills are probably digitised as soon as probate is applied for – so be careful!

In general terms. this is brilliant for both clients and professionals as access is now much easier and generally far quicker – provided the Will has been digitised of course. There will be cost savings on professionals bills, and things should be a little quicker.

The initiative was led by the HM Courts and Tribunals Service in response to public demand for official documents to be more accessible. This was achieved in partnership with Iron Mountain, a specialist firm that provides digital data storage solutions.

Dating back to 1858, the wills featured are those registered within England and Wales, allowing consumers and probate professionals to get valuable historical information online.

The first stage of the project involved around 260,000 wills from military persons being added to a digital database. So far, this archive alone has received over 2 million search queries to date, having only being launched in 2013.

This now means, not only can probate clients easily find out more about their ancestors, but also uncover lost inheritance and assets left to their family over the years, as well as find the grant of representation for a family member’s estate.

Amongst the data also lies the dying wishes of well-known figures, including Sir Winston Churchill, Beatrix Potter, and AA Milne.

Within his will, Charles Dickens goes into detail about how he wanted to have no monument or memorial erected in his name and says, “I rest my claims to the remembrance of my country upon my published works”. The author also allegedly left £80,000 to his chosen beneficiaries, which would equate to over £7 million today.

George Orwell is claimed to have wanted his manuscripts and any personal documentation to be preserved. Economist John Maynard Keynes, however, asked for any unpublished manuscripts and other documents to be destroyed on his death.

Accessing a will costs £10 and will take about 10 days for the electronic copy to be received. For more information and to do a search, simply visit