A time of change in the world of probate

Guest blog from one of the recognised bodies of the Professional Paralegal Register, The Association of Probate Researchers (APR) on the proposed changes within the probate sector.

These are interesting times for the probate sector, with the government looking to push through its much-publicised fee changes while at the same time introducing a new online application process that has been dogged by controversy virtually from the day it was first mooted.

Proposed reforms will bring an end to the current flat rate of probate fees of £215 (£155 if estates are settled through a solicitor) and the implementation of a six-band sliding scale.

The new system will see people whose estates are valued at between £50,000 and £300,000 pay £250, with fees rising to £750 for estates valued between £300,000 and £500,000, and £2,500 for those worth between £500,000 and £1m. A maximum fee of £6,000 will be levied on those with estates worth more than £2m.

Fees will be capped at no more than 0.5 per cent of the value of an estate and the government suggests that around 80% of estates will pay no more than £750. In addition, the threshold below which no fees are payable will rise from £5,000 to £50,000.

The Ministry of Justice has stressed that additional funds raised will be spent on the courts and tribunal service.

In a written statement it noted: ‘The new banded fee model represents a fair and more progressive way to pay for probate services compared to the current flat fee.’

However, many in the media have not agreed with this assessment and the proposals have come in for considerable criticism, especially as they coincide with the introduction of a controversial online application process.

Rolled out by Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) in 2017 as part of a £1 billion reform programme, the latter’s stated aim is to make probate simpler and more convenient, remove the need for people to attend a probate registry and swear an oath in person, and make the justice system easier to navigate for all.

Government sources say that take up of the new system has been relatively rapid and point to advantages of security and ease of use.

Under the proposals, “bulk scanning and printing services” will replace work that has traditionally been carried out by people – in this case civil servants – who check whether wills are original before issuing probate.

The Public and Commercial Services Union, some of whose members are now facing an uncertain future, has however reacted with alarm at the plan.

“Thousands of years of experience are being lost,” a union spokesperson commented in March, “We are concerned that the current model of probate is having to change to fit HMCTS proposals for a paperless system, a system that they have not consulted upon, our members maintain is not fit for purpose and threatens the integrity of the grant.”

Neil Fraser, partner at genealogists and international probate researchers Fraser and Fraser, said: “In principle, automating the system makes sense and will make the process simpler for many people. However, it’s important there is a system of checks in place that allows individual cases to be scrutinised.”

“The digitisation process should be extended to cover the entire probate period, with estate accounts being required to be filed at the end of the process.

“Complex estates by their very nature can be challenging to administer and we would strongly advise these are dealt with by a professional. Many members of the public will be unaware that if they make mistakes they could be at risk of facing prosecution for fraud.”

 

Recognised Body of the Professional Paralegal Register: The Association of Probate Researchers

The Association of Probate Researchers
In the context of the current changes faced by the sector, the Association of Probate Researchers (APR) has an important role to play.

The organisation brings regulation to the professional probate research industry, guards against the fraudulent or misguided and ensures beneficiaries receive the best advice at a time of changing realities and regulations.

For more information about the organisation’s activities visit www.a-p-r.org

Celebrating the Successes of Finalists!

Finalists of the first National Paralegal Awards, and industry leaders and supporters, will be coming together on Friday 29 March for the inaugural awards event, which is being held in the The May Fair Hotel London’s prestigious Crystal Room, showcasing and celebrating Paralegal talent from across the UK.

The evening commences with a champagne reception and dinner, which will be followed by the main awards ceremony. Here are the Finalists who were selected by an independent judging panel from hundreds of entries.

Best Family Law Paralegal
Alison Collier- Nowell Meller
Dawn Gore – Trethowans LLP
Iselin Jones- Corbett Le Quesne
Kaya Suleyman – Morrison Solicitors LLP
Nicola Phipps – Wikivorce

Will Writing Organisation of the Year
Bill Hogg – Attorney Wills
Nick Ash – Will and Probate Services
Heritage Will Writers

Best Law Firm – Paralegal Development
Dentons UK and Middle East LLP
Eric Robinson Solicitors
Mayo Wynne Baxter
PM Property Lawyers
Shakespeare Martineau
Shoosmiths
Which Legal

Paralegal Recruitment Organisation of the Year
EJ Group
F Lex
Law Staff Legal Recruitment
The Stephen James Partnership
Simply Law Jobs

Best Trademark Paralegal
Peter Fisher -CP Law Associates
Rebecca McBride
Roy Scott – Keltie LLP

Best ADR Paralegal
Clive Lewis- Globis Mediation Group
Maria Arpa
Qaiser Bari

Best Employment/HR Paralegal
Bina Briggs – Plain Talking HR
Joe Milner – Loch Associates
Leah Caprani – Winckworth Sherwood LLP
Michael Coe-Dimension Eighty Eight

Best Conveyancing Paralegal
Kay Liddle- PM Property Lawyers
Kelvin Cooper-Birketts
Laura Kate Morley- PM Property Lawyers
Rachel Lawrence – Dentons UK

Best Pro Bono Paralegal
Ashleah Skinner
Lyn Berry
Nisar Afsar -BCADS

Best Probate Research Paralegal
Alex Horrod -Anglia Research
Katie Lowe- Estate Research
Lauren Geary – Treethorpe
Lorna Gallacher- Treethorpe
Neil Fraser – Fraser and Fraser

Paralegal Business of the Year
Champion Law
Construction Legal
Divorce Online
Estate Research
Derby Legal Assistance
Fraser and Fraser
Lender & Court
Problem Percy
White Collar Legal

Paralegal of the Year
Ashleah Skinner
Caroline Spencer- Boulton
Gerald Murphy
Ian Lobb
Jonathan Dattani
Julie Herbert
Katie Lowe
Leah Caprani
Michael Coe
Nick Ash
Paige George
Peter Fisher
Philip Nam
Sharon Baker

This year’s headline sponsor is Treethorpes and individual awards have been sponsored by Which Legal, The Institute of Paralegals, Lawyer checker, Heslewood and Grant, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, The Stephen James Partnership, Golden Leaves, Clerksroom, Central Law Training and F-Lex.

Other sponsors include Orion Legal Marketing, Legal Futures and Auscript.

 

Continuing Professional Development spot checks

Continuing Professional DevelopmentThe PPR will be carrying out random spot checks on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) records of registered professional paralegals starting in June 2019.

Why is the PPR doing this?

CPD is required to be undertaken by Tier 2 Paralegals and above.

Members of the PPR are responsible for their own professional development in accordance with the Paralegal Practitioners Rules however to ensure that registered paralegals keep their record cards updated and undertake their set number of CPD hours, we believe spot checks will prove more proportionate and less onerous than requiring all registered members of the PPR to submit their record cards annually.

It is worth noting that registered members who hold Professional Practising Certificates (PPC’s) and are fully regulated by the PPR will be excluded from the spot checks as they must provide their CPD records annually to comply with the Paralegal Practising Certificate Rules.

How will I know if I’ve been selected for spot-checking?

The PPR will contact those selected for spot-checking to ask for evidence of completion of their CPD hours and their record card.

Why have I been selected?

Paralegals will be selected entirely at random.

What is Continual Professional Development (CPD)?

Continual Professional Development (CPD) is any relevant and valid education or training by a Paralegal to enable them to develop his or her professional knowledge, skills and abilities.

The CPD should cover:

  • Law – procedure and practice
  • Client care skills
  • Practice skills
  • Organisational and management skills

What are the PPR’s CPD Requirements?

Members at Associate level (Tier 2) and above are required to undertake a minimum of 12 hours CPD in each year of practice.  This increased from 7 hours in each year of practice on 1st September 2018.

3 hours must be gained through formal means such as:

  • Attendance at a legal conference
  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Courses
  • Training
  • Publishing papers, articles or books

The remaining hours may be gained through private study; taking part in consultations; in-house training; reading journals or books; preparing training materials or presentations.

Records and Monitoring

Paralegals who are registered are required to complete and maintain a CPD record in good faith.

If a member does not have a summary of their CPD i.e. what you did, when, with which provider (if relevant) and the benefit to your professional education (e.g. legal updating, new skill, etc.) then they can download the PPR’s CPD Record Template to complete by clicking here.

Are there any exemptions?

A Member may, in extenuating circumstances, apply for an exemption of up to 4 hours CPD.

If a Member has not complied with the requisite CPD requirements and they are not entitled to an exemption, the PPR will investigate and may withdraw the Member from the PPR. A Member’s CPD record may be used in any complaint investigation that alleges lack of knowledge or incompetent practice.

If a Member holds a practising certificate, they will be excluded from the spot checks.

If you have any questions or queries, please contact the Head of Memberships and Events, Abby Dennis by email on abby.dennis@ppr.org.uk or phone 01442 508 206.

Enter the British Wills & Probate Awards

Would you like to win an industry accolade for high achievement in the sector?British Wills and Probate Awards

Following the overwhelming success of last year’s event, The British Wills & Probate Awards are back – bigger and better.

Taking place on the 17th October 2019, the prestigious awards are being held at the Belfry Hotel and Resort in Birmingham. The 2019 attendee list is double the size of last year, reaching just shy of 300.

The awards will again be hosted by broadcaster and journalist Jennie Bond, who appears regularly on a wide range of television and radio programmes – from light entertainment to documentaries.

Why not highlight your achievement and successes in the Wills and Probate sector by entering the awards?

Not only will you have the chance of winning an award, you will also receive the following benefits:

  • Full coverage on leading news publication Today’s Wills & Probate
  • Content to use for your marketing purposes
  • Use of the British Wills & Probate Awards logo
  • Enhanced brand profile and recognition
  • Networking opportunities

With more choice of categories to choose from than ever before, you and your firm will be sure to find plenty to apply for, especially as you can enter up to three categories for the cost of £145 plus VAT – which is less than the cost of writing a Will for most of us, and of course, the more categories you enter, the more chance you have of being shortlisted and maybe even winning.

To find out more about this year’s new categories and which ones best represent your business please click here. The closing date for submissions is 14th June, so don’t wait, get your nominations in now!

Furthermore, bookings for this key event are now open here where you will find information and pricing for individual tickets and whole tables of twelve.

If you would like more information about how the awards work and how to go about entering please call Josh Hall on 01829 307 505 or email awards@todayswillsandprobate.co.uk

British Wills & Probate Awards with Jennie Bond

British Wills & Probate Awards 2019

Kate Hoey MP Becomes a Patron of PPR

The Professional Paralegal Register are delighted to announce that Kate Hoey MP, has agreed to become a Patron.

Kate said on her appointment “One of my Parliamentary colleagues Ashleah Skinner was one of the first PPR members to receive the PPR Paralegal Practising Certificate and I am delighted and honoured to accept the role of Patron and am committed to raising Paralegals in Parliament including PPR”.
Rita Leat said, “The role of our Patrons is a very important one, as it is to encourage and promote an awareness of the value and effectiveness of the PPR for Paralegals; Consumers and Employers. I am looking forward to working further with Kate to promote independent regulation of Paralegals”.
Kate who has supported the register for many years and hosted an event for the PPR in the House of Commons earlier this year, joins our other Patrons

Outstanding Achievement Award Baroness Dianne Hayter of Kentish Town

The inaugural National Paralegal Awards Gala Final was attended by 200 finalists, judges and sponsors on Friday at the prestigious May Fair Hotel.

These brand-new awards, hosted by the Professional Paralegal Register, who is the overarching voluntary regulator for Paralegals in England and Wales, were specifically aimed at recognising the achievements of Paralegals across the UK, law firms that develop Paralegals and recruitment companies who recruit Paralegals.

Kate Hoey MP, gave the opening address as Patron of the PPR, telling the attendees “that regulation via membership bodies is not regulation at all as it does not protect the consumer. The PPR is the only independent regulator for Paralegals and those working in the unregulated legal services market”.

Rita Leat, Managing Director of PPR presented an Award for Outstanding Achievement to Baroness Dianne Hayter of Kentish Town, stating that the Baroness was being honoured for her long career in championing consumer protection and for supporting the PPR in all of its efforts to ensure there is a voluntary regulator who puts the interests of consumers at the centre of all it does.

In accepting the Award, Baroness Hayter, who could not attend the event due to her duties regarding Brexit, spoke via a video stating that she “was honoured to receive such an award on behalf of consumer protection and fully supported the efforts of the PPR”.

The awards were also sponsored by The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Heslewood and Grant Solicitors, Institute of Paralegals, Clerks Room Direct, Central Law Training, Lawyer Checker, Golden Leaves, Which Legal, F-Lex, Stephen James Partnership and Auscript.

PPR applauds the Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation

Rita Leat, Managing Director of the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR) has given Rita Leat, Managing Director of the PPRpraise to Professor Stephen Mason for undertaking the Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation.

The current system of regulation via the approved regulators under the Legal Services Board is at best confusing and at worst detrimental for consumers to enable them to understand where to turn for redress when things go wrong.

There has been a strong argument to suggest that one super regulator such as the LSB should be formed that would help consumers to access redress quicker and more simply, with one set of regulations that cover all providers of Legal Services. This of course is not something that has been received well by individual regulators who wish to keep their set of regulations as being specific to job titles. But is this the right approach?

Regulation of the services (where needed) makes better sense to ensure that only those high-risk matters are indeed regulated. This would better enable professional bodies to regulate conduct only with no overlap with the regulation applied to certain services.

From the unregulated sector, the PPR has risen to provide an overarching voluntary regulatory scheme for all those who would otherwise remain unregulated. Regulation here covers all job titles as there are no real differences in the requirements for professional practice no matter what your job title is.

The PPR, similar to Cilex, operate a two-tier approach to regulation. Recognised Bodies of the PPR handle first Tier complaints which can then be escalated to the PPR as an independent regulator operating an arbitration scheme.

As the leading authority and regulatory scheme for Paralegals we enable individuals to practice specific services only which makes it transparent for consumers.

The PPR who recently held the first National Paralegal Awards with 200 attending across the sector, are determined to rid the legal services market of self-regulatory schemes that offer no protection for consumers who are left to pick up the pieces of an unsatisfactory service.

Kate Hoey, MP recently said ‘regulation by membership bodies is not regulation at all as it does not offer real redress for consumers’. Kate Hoey is a Patron of the PPR and advocates that all Paralegals should join the PPR. No other form of ‘self-regulation’ is recognised by the PPR.

The PPR welcomes the report next year and continues to strive to ensure that consumers are put at the heart of all regulatory decisions.

PPR Partner with Legalex

We are very excited to announce our partnership with Legalex. On the 27th & 28th March 2019, London’s ExCeL will play host to Legalex, Europe’s most comprehensive and all-encompassing trade show for legal professionals and the business behind the solicitor.

This year, the exhibition promises to be the most forward-thinking to date – housing 200 cutting-edge suppliers and 150 educational seminars from some of the world’s top legal experts and innovative thinkers. Leading the industry as the most accomplished event for forward-thinking, ambitious and successful legal firms looking to modernise their practice LegalEx 2019, is one not to miss.

Legalex is designed to help the business behind the solicitor. If you’re looking for the most effective ways to increase the profit of your legal practice, step up your marketing efforts, increase client retention, and increase your billable hours, then this is the must-attend event for you.

With a focus on the innovations in Artificial Intelligence for legal firms, how the implementation of GDPR is affecting the efficiency of solicitors, the rise in Cyber Terrorism creating an expansion in the market for Cyber Security Firms and how the Conveyancing sectors are expanding and developing as a key feature of the show.

Over 3,000 legal professionals will come together at the ExCeL to discover the latest tools, products, services, resources and innovations that are changing the game in legal business growth and data security. Aside from the 200 industry leading exhibitors, visitors will also benefit from the expert-led seminar schedule, and the sophistication of the keynote line that gets better every year.

Exclusive masterclasses from cloud storage experts, Tresorit and solutions provider, ME Group Holdings are set to bring in the crowds with exclusive educational content and unmissable opportunities to meet with and network with the experts that are taking the session.

With exhibitors from across the many legal sectors all coming together under one roof, it is hard to find a reason not to attend. This approach creates an efficient solution to your legal problems. Instead of spending hours looking at companies on the internet, speak to the people behind the solution face to face and choose what you can be sure is the best option for your specific firm and needs.

For full details and to register for your free ticket to attend please visit www.legalex.co.uk

 

 

PPR's Managing Director, Rita Leat shortlisted as Finalist in Best Business Women Awards

Rita Leat, Finalist Best Business Women Awards - Legal ServicesThe Best Business Women Awards have announced their finalists for 2019. The business world is full of talented and dedicated female entrepreneurs who not only run successful businesses but, in many cases, also juggle the needs of their families. The Best Business Women Awards are designed to recognise the achievement of those women across a wide range of business categories from women across the UK.

Rita Leat from the Professional Paralegal Register has been shortlisted as a finalist in the legal services categories. The Professional Paralegal Register (PPR) is the overarching independent voluntary regulator for paralegals. Its aims are to promote professional paralegals as the recognised fourth arm of the legal profession and to enhance consumer choice and protection.

Debbie Gilbert, organiser of The Best Business Women Awards said “This is the 5th year of these prestigious awards. We were delighted with the number of entries this year, which came in from all over the UK. This is a tough competition judged by business experts. To be a finalist is a major achievement. Finalists have been selected for their business acumen, determination, creativity and tenacity. Well over 80% of start-ups fail in the first 3 years and all our finalists are all shining examples of being successful entrepreneurs who have proved their success to our judges.”

Rita Leat, PPR's Managing DirectorRita Leat, who is the Managing Director of the PPR said “I am honoured to be a Finalist for the legal sector category in this year’s Best Business Women Awards. Having achieved my Law Degree as a mature student with three children in 1994 I entered my legal career that has now spanned 27 years”. She continued “The Awards are a fantastic opportunity to recognise and celebrate not only women in business but for this particular category, women in law”.

The gala final of The Best Business Women Awards will be held on 11th October 2019 at The Tower Hotel in London when the winners will be announced.