Probate process changes

I rang HMRC this morning to chase up an IHT421 and was surprised to be told that it had been sent direct to the Probate online centre at Harlow two weeks ago. A new (COVID related) practice, I was told. Is anyone else aware of this? Has it been notified to anyone?

Tim Gibbons

1 Like

The IHT421 form changed sometime in January (possibly earlier) to give the option to send the form directly to your Probate Registry of choice. However, in my experience, it is not being picked up when it arrives or is being sent to the wrong Probate Registry. I have more than one situation now where I have had to get HMRC to reissue the IHT421 to me and then forward it on to the Probate Registry.

Of course, this does nothing to speed up the process and I am still waiting for a grant application submitted on 6 January.

Kind regards

Chris Shaw
Graysons Solicitors

1 Like

I was aware of this - not sure where I read/heard it - it may have been one of Lesley King’s recent excellent webinars. The advice was to submit the probate application at the same time as the IHT 421 as HMRC will not send notification that the IHT 421 has been submitted to the probate registry (I seem to remember that not too long ago we were all specifically instructed not to send the probate application until we had the IHT 421)!

Not sure why is has been sent to Harlow though. I thought Harlow were only dealing with personal applications at the moment and that we were still supposed to be using local registries.

Sarah Arundel
Taylor Fawcett

Update 1 May 2020: HM Courts & Tribunal Service (HMCTS) met with STEP, the Law Society, SFE and ICAEW this week for its regular Probate Service meeting. The following updates were provided:

  • The combined form is timetabled for approximately two weeks’ time and a formal notification will be provided.
  • Partners who are Executors are now able to make online applications.
  • Trust corporations and others which are currently unable to apply online will be added to the process over the next couple of months.
    *** HMRC intends to start sending IHT421 forms directly to the Probate Registry within 15 days of issue. A formal notification will follow when this has been implemented**.

We have requested an additional meeting in the next ten days to discuss specific form issues with HMCTS and the Probate Registrar. Please contact us at if you have issues that you would like to be reported.

HMCTS has also enquired whether firms are struggling to get the original wills to the Probate Registry during remote working. Please do let us know if this is the case.

Malcolm Finney


The IHT421 on the government website says when you leave the name and address box blank on page 1 then HMRC will send the IHT421 direct to the Probate Registry. I recently submitted a Grant application to Cardiff Probate Registry and Brighton Probate Registry responded. In their e-mail, it said

" …you are aware we are waiting on the IHT 421 to be returned to us. Please ensure that HMRC either send this to Brighton directly, or email it to our centralised email address (".

Terrie Ross
Watkins Solicitors

Published 4 April 2014
Last updated 1 June 2020 — see all updates


HM Revenue & Customs


Probate summary (IHT421)

Ref: IHT421PDF, 298KB, 2 pages

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.


Use this form if you’re applying for a grant of representation in England, Wales or Northern Ireland to outline assets in the deceased’s estate that will become the property of the executors or personal representatives to distribute among the beneficiaries.

Fill in the form, print it off and send it to:

Inheritance Tax
United Kingdom

This form has replaced the D18 form.

Complete form C1 for a grant of confirmation in Scotland.

Before you start filling in the form

If your browser is an older one (for example, Internet Explorer 8) you’ll need to update it to a different browser before you can complete the form.

You’ll need to fill in the form fully before you can print it. You can’t save a partly completed form so have all the information you need before you start to fill it in.

Published 4 April 2014
Last updated 1 June 2020 - hide all updates

1. 1 June 2020The Probate summary (IHT421) has been updated as HMRC have stopped returning the completed forms to customers and are sending them directly to HMCTS Probate.

Malcolm Finney

Hi Tim

This change of process is referred to on page 21 of form PA1P (where a legal professional is applying for a Grant by post) – the note (at 7.5) states:

“Note 7.5 – do not send form IHT400 or form IHT421 to us. Please send them to HM Revenue and Customs, Inheritance Tax, BX9 1HT, at the same time you send PA1P and other papers to HMCTS Probate. HMRC will stamp your IHT421 and send it to HMCTS Probate.”

If using Form PA1A (no Will), it is on page 18 (note 6.5). I’m not sure if it is referred to elsewhere on the Gov.UK site?

I hope that this is helpful?

Jane Robinson
Winckworth Sherwood LLP

I read about this on STEP’s UK News Digest about two weeks ago and was surprised that it did not receive any other publicity. I planned to post about it on this forum to see if anyone knew how it
would work in practice.

On Monday I received a letter from a caseworker at HMRC telling me, “We are no longer able to return forms IHT421 to customers. This is because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” The letter
also said that the form had been emailed to HMCTS but did not specify which actual Registry.

I was somewhat bemused that the caseworker could send me a letter by post but could not post the IHT421 to me.

I assumed from this letter that in all future estates HMRC would notify the solicitor involved when the form had been sent to HMCTS but obviously they did not do so in Tim’s estate. If the solicitor
is not going to be informed as a matter of course, do forum members think that we should send the other papers to the Probate Registry “to await form IHT421 from HMRC”?

Cliona O’Tuama


Malcolm, many thanks, this is very helpful. However, how will a solicitor know when the IHT421 form has been sent to HMCTS?

In the letter/notice from HMRC that had a link from the STEP UK News Digest two weeks or so ago, it was stated that HMRC will tell a solicitor that they had sent the IHT421 to HMCTS when they send
the solicitor the inheritance tax calculations. I deal with several estates, particularly non-UK-domiciled estates, that are not excepted estates and that are not liable to inheritance tax, so I would not receive any calculations in those estates.

Should I simply send the other Probate papers to HMCTS at the same time as I send the Inheritance Tax Account to HMRC?

Cliona O’Tuama


Yes I would send the probate papers to HMCTS to await receipt by them of IHT421. The whole process is now taking far longer than it ever did. That’s progress!

Patrick Moroney

Many thanks Patrick. Progress indeed!

Cliona O’Tuama


I don’t suppose there is anybody at the Law Society or STEP who could write down the process in a page or 2 and ask HMRC and the probate registry to sign off. At least then it would make it easier to complain if they change their procedures on a whim.

The process seems to be changing day by day and it isn’t very clear if some aspects are temporary (and will revert) or have just been accelerated by C19, but the biggest problem seems to be that the information isn’t available from a single clear source - particularly for solicitors who can’t usually use the procedures set out for individuals.

Andrew Goodman
Osborne Clarke LLP

HMCTS have clearly been shaken to the core by my comment above and immediately published a new (or possibly updated) Probate FAQ.

Unfortunately I can only find it on PLC so can’t tell anybody where to find it, which kind of confirms the communication point above (or my incompetence). Perhaps somebody else can find a public link to the pdf document on the web.

Andrew Goodman
Osborne Clarke LLP

No doubt colleagues also received the email last week from Probate “Comms” (presumably Communications) attaching copies of the new Probate application forms with comments from the Registrars annotated
on them in red.

It appears from the notes that an application form can be signed by the legal representative instead of by all the applicants, which I had not known previously. Has anyone else signed the form as
the legal representative or do you always get the PRs to sign? In the current climate I have been posting the form to the PRs with the relevant HMRC form and it would be far easier to be able to sign the Probate application form myself.

Any comments will be very welcome.

Cliona O’Tuama


In my previous role at Co-op Legal Services it was something of a lottery whether the stamped IHT421 came back to our office, or was forwarded direct to Probate Registry. To that end, I wouldn’t say that much has changed…except that the timescale for turning around applications has become more protracted, the timescale for obtaining Date of Death valuations has (in some instances, notably government departments and some utility providers) become more laborious and the volume of work has sadly increased.

Totally agree that a simplified process would be welcomed - although the most recent simplification appears to have involved the addition of a further repetitious and (some may argue) spurious form-filling exercise (re: PA1A / PA1P).

Michael Fogg

Yes I aware of the change. However, I am finding (rather consistently) that HMRC writes (why not email for goodness sake?!) to inform me they have sent the summary to Probate Registry.

I then submit the application, only for Registry to return to state they require the stamped summary… so system fails it seems…

Anyone else experienced this?

Philippa Jayne Bavington
Giles Wilson LLP

Yes, I have experienced this too.
Also, last week an Executor client emailed me a letter that he had received from a DPR asking him if there is a solicitor acting for him in the application and, if not, to send them an additional ÂŁ60 for the Probate fee. It is clear from the application form that I am acting and the Probate Officer who sent the letter was obviously careless in not reading the form in any detail. I fear that this sort of issue will happen more and more with the shambolic new process.

Cliona O’Tuama