Jurisdiction—the probate court

The following Wills & Probate practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Jurisdiction—the probate court
  • Jurisdiction
  • Non-contentious business

Jurisdiction—the probate court

STOP PRESS: With effect from 2 November 2020, the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987, SI 1987/2024 (NCPR 1987) are amended by the Non-Contentious Probate (Amendment) Rules 2020, SI 2020/1059 to provide for the use of witness statements as an alternative to affidavits for the non-contentious probate applications and processes contained in the following rules: NCPR 1987, SI 1987/2024, rr 10(1)(b), 12(1), 12(2), 16, 19, 25(2), 26(1), 32(2), 36(2)(a), 44(6), 44(10), 44(12), 46(2), 46(4), 47(4), 47(6), 48(2)(a), 50(2), 51, 52, 53, 54(3), 55(2) and 55(3). This makes permanent the temporary provisions introduced by the President of the Family Division at the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. See: LNB News 01/10/2020 19.


The probate jurisdiction of the courts developed within the Ecclesiastical jurisdiction that had been in force since the 14th century. However, the procedures there were entirely different to those in their sister Courts of Chancery Law and Chancery. In particular, the Ecclesiastical Courts were concerned with:

'… the demands of the law and the conscience of the Court.' (Wyatt v Ingram sub nom Ingram v Wyatt (1832) 3 Hag Ecc 466, 1 LJ Ch 135)

This equitable approach developed to protect the true last wishes of the deceased against their relatives' contrary and self-seeking activities.

Before 1858, jurisdiction to grant or revoke probate of Wills or administration'>letters of administration of the estates of deceased persons was

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