What is a Licensed Probate Practitioner? - Law Training Centre

What is a Licensed Probate Practitioner?

A Licensed Probate Practitioner specialises in the legal procedures and practices surrounding inheritance and the administration of wills and estates.
Probate is the process of dealing with the estate of someone who has died. When a person dies, their estate will either pass under the intestacy rules (to the next of kin) or in accordance with the terms of a valid Will. Probate, therefore, determines where everything that the deceased person owed goes, including money, property and other possessions.
A Licensed Probate Practitioner is qualified in the law of succession, trusts, relevant aspects of property law and the law relating to the inheritance and the administration of estates.

What services does a Licensed Probate Practitioner provide?

When there is a valid Will

Contained within a valid Will, a person or persons shall be named as executors, and these people are responsible for sorting out the estate of a person who has died in accordance with the terms of the Will.
An executor can administer the estate themselves. However, it can be time-consuming, and of course, given that the executor will often be dealing with the loss of a loved one at the relevant time, it often makes sense to pay a professional to do this. This is where a Licensed Probate Practitioner comes in.
In addition, even if the executor does have the time and emotional energy to put into the process, a Licensed Probate Practitioner will normally be required for complex estates including:
  • Where the estate is large, and inheritance tax is likely to be payable
  • Where the will may be disputed
  • Where the will may not be valid
  • A dependent has been left out of the will
  • Complexities relating to trust, bankruptcy, or insolvency
  • Jurisdictional issues relating to the deceased living outside of the UK or property out of the jurisdiction
  • When there is no Will

    When a person dies without a Will their estate still needs to be administered, collected and distributed. Probate will work in very much the same way. However, at the outset, it will need to be established who has the legal authority to administer the estate and who is entitled to inherit from the estate. As there is no Will to stipulate the identity of the executor or those who will inherit (beneficiaries) “the rules of intestacy” dictate who has the legal authority to handle the estate and who is legally entitled to inherit.
    Other ways in which a Licensed Probate Practitioner may assist with an estate where a person dies intestate is in the preparation of a Deed of Variation. This is a legal document which allows the administrators of the estate to vary how the estate is distributed. An example of this would be where the children of the deceased wish to redirect their share or part of their share to a surviving partner of the deceased where the couple were unmarried.
    Legal activities relating to probate, including the preparation of probate papers in relation to proceedings, are a “Reserved Legal Activity” as provided for by the Land Registration Act 2002 and so can only be carried out by a legal professional regulated by an approved regulator in the legal services sector. In short, this means that to carry out probate activities, you must either be qualified as a Licensed Probate Practitioner or as a Solicitor.
    A Licenced Probate Practitioner is not a Solicitor, but nonetheless has received extensive training and development in probate practice and is in fact solely focused on this particular area of law and so is a true specialist.
    Probate papers are papers on which to found or oppose a grant of probate (where there this a Will) or grant of letters of administration (where there is no Will).
    The executor/administrator must swear an oath to confirm their right to administer the estate. The administration of oaths is another reserved legal activity. Licensed Probate Practitioners are commissioners for oaths, which means that they have the legal authority to administer and witness official documents (e.g. affidavits to swear that a statement is the truth).

    Where does a Licensed Probate Practitioner work?

    A Licensed Probate Practitioner works in the private client industry. Due to the nature of the work undertaken with the same regulatory body, a Licensed Probate Practitioner traditionally may work in a team alongside Licensed Conveyancers. Alternatively, or in addition, Licensed Probate Practitioners will work with Solicitors dealing with private client work. Finally, a Licensed Probate Practitioner may be a sole practitioner and so work for themselves.
    The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) regulates Licensed Conveyancers (and Licensed Probate Practitioners), offering protection to consumers and a complaints service.