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.

 

Conference Review

Thank you to everyone for their participation in the PPR Conference on 21st April.

The analysis of the conference feedback forms (75 returned from 150 participants) shows that the event was very well received as a valuable, stimulating and enjoyable day, particularly for making contact with other Paralegals, learning about the PPR position in the sector, and inspiring individuals’ commitment to joining the PPR.

From the PPR perspective, the event provided a great opportunity to further its aims of establishing itself as the voluntary regulator for Paralegals. Added to this, discussions during the day – particularly in the workshop sessions – have helped identify priority areas for focus such as providing clearer information on the Tiers and the advantages of applying for a PPC .

The majority of delegates who completed the conference feedback forms rated the conference as a whole as “exceeded expectation” or “exceptional”. The keynote speech from Steve Green and the opening address by Rita Leat  attracted comments such as “great keynote” and “excellent – really interesting and fascinating speaker”. There was much enthusiasm in the panel discussion which, in a way, reflected the enthusiastic way in which the delegates participated in this activity: ” The panel session was very good but too short!” The closing remarks were also well received “I feel that you are pioneers for the sector!”

The most common rating for the usefulness of the workshops was “exceeded expectation”. The presenters of the workshops were rated by the majority as “exceeded expectation” or “exceptional”. Ian Grant from Heselwood & Grant attracted comments such as “witty, informative and engaging presenter”, “a really great presenter”. Some delegates commented “that the Business workshop was a bit too generic but that the presenter was very good”. One delegate commented “I wanted to attend all of the workshops!”.

The choice of venue was also very popular with the delegates: the majority rated the convenience of the location, its comfort and facilities and the catering as “exceeded expectation or “exceptional”. One delegate tweeted “enjoying a great lunch at the PPR conference”.

Those who were involved in the conference organisation and administration were pleased that most delegates rated the arrangements as “exceeded expectation”, both prior to the conference and on the day itself. Particularly appreciated was the additional “social” information provided in advance of the conference which, it is believed, contributed to the friendly atmosphere of the event. Delegate’s comments included “A very well organised conference with a positive atmosphere. Thanks to all those who put effort into making this happen”.

Feedback from our virtual participants, of which there were at least 29 actively following the conference via #pprConf on Twitter  also showed enthusiasm for the proceedings of the day.

58 of the 75 delegates said that they would ‘absolutely’ or ‘very likely’ attend the next conference.

Conference thanks

Of course, an enormous amount of effort goes into planning a conference such as this, and we owe thanks to all involved. First we are very grateful to the conference sponsors.

A special vote thanks is also due to the speakers, chairs and the brave panel speakers for their contributions on the day, as well as the hard work devoted to preparing for their roles. We should also recognise that without the commitment of the PPR conference team we would not have enjoyed such a well organised day – as one delegate remarked –  “I have attended many conferences but I have never experienced such enthusiasm and engagement by the delegates”.

There are many individuals whose work behind the scenes deserves special recognition and are too many to name but two should be recognised. Our conference co-ordinator on the day Dorothy Campbell did a sterling job keeping everyone on track. Raffaele Corriero our digital expert managed all of the media screens, the presentations both in the plenary session and also assisted all of the workshop presenters.

Conference resources

Presentations

Video

Photos

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 [email protected] or phone 01442 508 206.

J.M. Glendinning Professional Risks Limited - Professional Indemnity Insurance

After discussions with the team at J.M. Glendinning Professional Risks Limited, we are pleased to tell our members that they meet the PPR’s exacting standards of Professional Indemnity Insurance providers.

If you would like to learn more, please see below their contact details:

Kate Cooper BA(Hons) ACII

Chartered Insurance Broker
J.M. Glendinning (Insurance Brokers) Professional Risks Limited

Elmwood House, Ghyll Royd, Guiseley, Leeds, LS20 9LT
Direct Dial:          01943 660816
Mobile:                07766 391670

[email protected]

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

LawWorks Pro Bono Awards

I was honoured and delighted to be invited to attend the LawWorks Pro Bono Awards ceremony in London this week, held at Linklaters.

LawWorks is a charity committed to enabling access to justice through free legal advice. They use their experience and expertise to help ensure that pro bono resources are targeted where they can be most effective and have the greatest impact.

The awards offered us a chance to celebrate the great work that is done on a pro bono basis by individuals and organisations throughout England and Wales.

The breadth of work undertaken is immense with legal advice and representation being offered from helping identifying and filing in forms all the way through to representation in court. It is clear that all legal practitioners can offer pro bono work in one form or another.

The awards host was Joshua Rozenberg who having been a lawyer himself guided the proceedings with clarity and wit.

With so many stories being highlighted for the great works being done, the winners were rightly congratulated and applauded by their peers. Not least, Emma Williams won the best contribution by a small firm for advising 70 clients on child contact matters in Wales.

The best in-house team award went to Hilton Worldwide who advise a number of small charities who cannot afford legal advice.

The most effective pro bono partnership is an interesting category and one that I intend to investigate further for the PPR. It would be good if a Paralegal team could partner with a Citizen’s Advice Bureau or University to offer Pro Bono advice clinics.

If you are interested in getting involved with Pro Bono work then please contact us.

That just leaves me on behalf of the PPR to congratulate lawyers everywhere who give up their time to offer help and support to those in need of legal assistance.

Rita Leat

 

National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP) have ceased being a Recognised Body of the PPR

PLEASE VIEW OUR GUIDANCE DOCUMENT FOR ALL THOSE EFFECTED.

DOWNLOAD HERE

Important Notice

The PPR would like to advise that the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP) have ceased being a Recognised Body of the PPR from today – 4 th July 2017.

Paralegals

We would like to reassure all NALP/PPR members that the Directors, Regulatory Committee and the Advisory Board are aware of the difficulties that these members are now facing and we are working hard to publish guidance on the options that these members have open to them due to this situation.

Our focus and commitment at this time is to ensure that existing NALP/PPR members and consumers are continually protected by the PPR.

Please be patient with us – we are working with our key stakeholders to be able to publish the options within the next 24 hours, and if possible by the end of today.

If you have specific queries after the guidance is published then please call the PPR on 0203 034 1486 or email us at [email protected]

Consumers

The PPR would like to reassure consumers who are currently utilising the services of a PPR member who is also a NALP member, that where work commenced on or before 3 rd July 2017, this work will continue to be fully protected to the same extent that it was prior to NALP ceasing to be a Recognised Body.

For work commenced after 3 rd July 2017, PPR protection will still be available to all existing PPR/NALP members through options that we are making available to them within 24 hours of this communication. If you are unsure of the level of protection that your NALP/PPR Paralegal can offer you, then please call the PPR on 0203 034 1486 or email us with your query [email protected]