Wills and probate law changes in 2022

With 2022 coming to an end, Emma Beckett of GWlegal looks back at the important wills and probate law changes seen in England and Wales this year.

Cartoon paper and pen

What wills and probate law changes were there in 2022?

The wills and probate sector has traditionally been seen as a somewhat old-fashioned area. We still rely on the Wills Act 1837 and the test set out in the 1870 case of Banks v Goodfellow for testamentary capacity is still considered to be good law.

However, there have been some important changes in 2022 as a result of both the pandemic and as the world shifts towards digitisation. Here’s a round-up of the most important wills and probate law changes in 2022.

Video will witnessing

One change that was brought about by the pandemic was the ability to witness wills via video link. The government confirmed in January 2022 that the temporary change to the witnessing requirements for a valid will has been extended until at least 31 January 2024. You can see full guidance on making wills using video-conferencing in England and Wales on GOV.UK.

UK Trust Registration Service

In line with the move towards digitisation, one very important change that came into effect in 2022 was that it became compulsory to register the vast majority of UK trusts with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by 1 September 2022 on the Trust Registration Service. The information must be kept up to date and any changes must be reported to HMRC within 90 days otherwise trustees can be issued hefty penalties for failure to comply.

Changes to MyHMCTS

It has been possible to submit certain types of application for grants of probate and letters of administration online for a few years through MyHMCTS. However, the number of types of application that can be submitted online increased in 2022 and, perhaps most notably, it is now possible for Trust Corporations to apply online. There also are plans for the service to be extended further in 2023. A list of the types of application where a paper form is still required can be found on GOV.UK.

Excepted estates

Another change that took place in January 2022 was the removal of the requirement for an IHT205 form to be submitted for excepted estates where the person died on or after 1st January 2022. The number of estates that will be classed as ‘excepted’ has also increased as it is no longer necessary to complete a full inheritance tax account where either:

  • the gross value of the estate does not exceed £3 million, and everything has been left to a spouse or civil partner or a charity
  • the total value of lifetime gifts made in the seven years before death and the value of assets held in trust do not exceed £250,000

IHT threshold freeze

One change that was not made in 2022, but is still worth noting, was any increase in the inheritance tax thresholds. The nil rate band has been frozen at £325,000 since 2009 and the only real change since then has been the introduction of the residence nil rate band in 2017 which does not apply to everyone. It was confirmed in the Mini Budget this year that the current IHT thresholds will remain in place until the 2027/28 tax year, by which time the nil rate band will have been frozen for almost 20 years.

About the author

Emma Beckett is a Solicitor and Head of Wills & Probate at GWlegal@GWlegal.

See also

Is witnessing wills via video legal in England and Wales?

All you need to know about the UK Trust Registration Service

How do nil rate bands reduce inheritance tax?

Find out more

Wills Act 1837 (Legislation)

Guidance on making wills using video-conferencing (GOV.UK)

Apply for probate on paper as a practitioner (GOV.UK)

Report an excepted estate for Inheritance Tax (GOV.UK)


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Publication date: 22 December 2022

Any opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and the author alone, and does not necessarily represent that of The Gazette.