Private Client Seminar – Solving Problems at the Probate Registry

Private Client Seminar – Solving Problems at the Probate Registry

Written By: Heather Parker, Private Client Committee Chair
Edition: October 2019

Private Client Seminar – Solving Problems at the Probate Registry


As practitioners in non-contentious private client work we rarely get to speak to our colleagues – we don’t have “another side”, we don’t get to meet at Court or speak on the telephone.  Therefore, the Private Client Committee has put at the centre of their mission statement the desire to support each other as colleagues and to hopefully get to know one another better.  One way that we believe this can be achieved is by increasing our networking opportunities and providing seminars on topics that are relevant to the member.

On 25th September 41 Private Client Practitioners assembled at Nottingham Conference Centre for a networking lunch and to hear Keith Biggs, a retired Probate Registrar, give a seminar on how to avoid (and solve) problems at the Probate Registry.  This is the second seminar the Private Client Committee has provided and I am pleased to say that not only was the audience made up of practitioners from our own society but also those from Derbyshire and Leicestershire

The afternoon began at 12pm at Nottingham Conference Centre with a hot lunch that exceeded everyone’s expectations and, as one committee member commented, “we could have rice as well as potatoes”.  The seminar was due to start at 12.45 and so we had time to do a bit of networking beforehand.  From the feedback received I know that this part of the day was appreciated, if not just for the fact that the food was so good and wine was provided!  My only concern is that we have now set the bar to such a high standard.

At 12.45 we sat down and heard briefly from our sponsors of the day – Currency Index and Freeths and after a short welcome from myself we all settled down to hear what Keith had to say.  As we all know dealing with the Probate Registry has been nothing short of a nightmare for the last six month – a new computer system, lack of training, uncertainty surrounding the increased probate fees and outsourcing has meant that delays have ensued and one slight error puts your application right to the back of the queue.  Therefore, we knew that any advice on how to avoid these errors and make sure the application went in right first time was going to be welcome and we were not disappointed. 

You would be forgiven for thinking that as Keith retired in 2004 he would be slightly off the ball in terms of his current knowledge.  However, he proved time and time again that he still very much had his finger on the pulse and was able to give us an interesting insight in to the current working of the Registry and also a glimpse in to the future.  It would appear that we are also going to fall victim to Court closures just like our litigious counterparts.

Keith covered topics such as proving a copy Will, dealing with estates of foreign domiciles, applying for second grants in the same estate and cases where there is an unusual element.  The notes he provided were extremely detailed and I know that some of my colleagues who weren’t there have already found them useful.

With a short break in the middle for some more networking, the day rounded off at 4.30pm.

The feedback the Committee has received has been overwhelmingly positive and we have received some interesting ideas for future seminars.  In fact, we are already planning the next one for February 2020 when we will be looking at the Court of Protection and Lasting Powers of Attorney.  More details will follow shortly and I hope that you will be able to join us for what I hope will become a regular feature.  As I said at the outset we, as a committee, want to provide a service for our members, and therefore if there are any topics you would like us to cover or even just an idea for networking then please do contact us.

All that remains is for me to publicly thank Michelle Taylor, for the hard work that she put in advertising the event, arranging the venue and making sure everything ran as smoothly as it did on the day.  We couldn’t have done it without her!


Heather Parker