On 18 November 2021 an updated version of the scheme rules was published which includes an amendment to Part 4 (paragraph 6). This allows claimants who are unable to obtain probate to receive benefits from the scheme. Some claimants may be unable to obtain probate, for example, where they and their partner were not married or in a civil partnership and their partner died without leaving a will.
The rule change allows claimants to receive benefits from the scheme if they can provide evidence that in the two years leading up to the death of the eligible individual they and the eligible individual were financially interdependent and living as if married or in a civil partnership.
All claimants have the option of providing this evidence, so in some cases claimants may receive benefits either by providing the above evidence or providing proof of probate. This rule change ensures eligible claimants have at least one avenue of providing the required information for the scheme to make payment.
The updated version of the scheme rules published on 18 November 2021 also includes an amendment regarding the closure of the scheme. Previously, scheme rules stated that for a death to be considered by the scheme it must occur whilst Section 45 of the Coronavirus Act remains in effect. Section 45 was extended by Parliament but expired at midnight on 24 March 2022.
The updated scheme rules removed reference to Section 45 but inserted 31 March 2022 as the end date for the scheme. Furthermore, the previous scheme rules allowed a six-month window following the expiry of Section 45 to allow claimants time to bring forward outstanding claims in respect of deaths which occurred whilst the scheme was open. This window has now been extended from 31 March 2023 to 30 September 2023.