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Licensed probate practitioners

Licensed probate practitioners are qualified, professional probate lawyers, who specialise in the legal aspects surrounding inheritance and the administration of wills and estates in England and Wales.

What do they do?

When a person dies, someone has to deal with their affairs. Probate practitioners are experts in the legal documentation and processes for dealing with the affairs of a deceased person (ie, estate) and liaise with the deceased’s representatives (ie, executors or administrators) in order to administer the estate in accordance with their will or under the intestacy provisions (ie, when the deceased has not left a will). Licensed probate practitioners are also commissioners for oaths, which means that they have legal authority to administer and witness official documents (eg, affidavits to swear that a statement is the truth). They can sign your passport photo as well!

Where do they work?

Licensed probate practitioners work in a variety of legal teams and settings recognised in the private client industry, including licensed conveyancing or solicitors’ practices. They may also work as sole practitioners. They deal with a broad range of other professional persons including accountancy, banking, tax, trust and charitable professionals in the course of administering an estate.

Council for Licensed Conveyancers

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) is the regulatory body for licensed conveyancers and probate practitioners. The awarding body, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), has developed a suite of four new diplomas in partnership with CLC; two at Level 4 and two at Level 6. Learners can choose between Conveyancing Law and Practice or Probate Law and Practice, both of which can be studied at each level. The diplomas have replaced the previous CLC qualifications and are regulated by Ofqual.

The diplomas help employers to meet skills gaps and provide continuing professional development for staff, while candidates gain the knowledge and skills needed for competence and progression in the workplace. They can also be offered to people who wish to gain employment in the sector.

Becoming a licensed probate practitioner

Many trainee probate practitioners value the fact that they can study for their qualification while earning a living and taking advantage of the flexible study methods that are available. It is possible to choose a distance learning programme or classroom-based programme where offered by an approved provider.

Entry requirements

Level 4 Diploma Probate Law & Practice

Entry is at the discretion of the centre. Candidates do not need to have formal relevant qualifications to enter this regulated qualification. Good communication skills, both oral and written, are required. Current experience of working within a legal practice setting would be advantageous but is not mandatory.

Level 6 Diploma Probate Law & Practice

The target audience is those in work, or seeking employment, who require a specific skill set in order to become a licensed probate practitioner, for example probate legal technicians. Entry is at the discretion of the centre. However, it is a prerequisite that candidates hold one of the following:

  • a regulated qualification, such as the Level 4 Diploma Probate Law and Practice;
  • a law degree;
  • a postgraduate qualification (eg, GDL);
  • CILEx qualification level 6; or
  • relevant legal practice course (at diploma level).

To find out more, you can contact an approved training provider or the CLC’s trainee lawyer team.