Roy Partington is the Underwriting Director at CLS Property Insight. With over 50 years of insurance expertise in various roles, Roy has spent the last 20 years helping legal professionals manage probate and estate administration risk. Some of Roy’s team will be presenting a webinar on the 31st January all around estate administration and will be on hand to answer any questions.
In our upcoming webinar, we will share with you the products we have to support you and estate executors when administering an estate. Including how to reduce the risk of the following….
- additional costs to re-open and re-distribute an estate
- recalculating and paying Inheritance Tax
- claims on your company’s professional indemnity insurance
About Roy Partington
At CLS Property Insight, Roy Partington is something of a legend. With over 50 years of experience in the underwriting insurance industry, and a willingness to share his expertise, Roy’s involvement with probate and estate administration risk management goes back over 20 years. Whilst Roy is a master of detail when it comes to the legal profession and estate administration risk, he is driven to find fast and efficient solutions that are fit for purpose in the litigious and digital age probate solicitors now work in.
Roy worked for a composite insurer and two Lloyd’s syndicates before setting up his own underwriting agency. The agency merged with CLS in 2016. Roy has sourced capacity within the London market to launch Bonds of Caution and has been heavily involved in the design and underwriting of innovative products for CLS.
As the Underwriting Director of CLS Property Insight for around seven years, Roy has focussed on growing the breadth and range of Legal Indemnity Insurance products as well as an ever-growing range of probate and estate administration policies and solutions.
The CLS estate administration products
CLS PI is a specialist underwriting agency. It operates under binding authorities on behalf of insurers with an AA – S&P financial strength rating. Importantly, CLS PI can agree on coverage in most cases without the need for the specific approval of insurers. In unusual scenarios, CLS PI can produce bespoke wordings to provide the legal indemnity policies required by legal professionals.
The CLS PI estate administration products include:
- Missing Beneficiary insurance
- Missing Will insurance
- Lost share certificate indemnities
- Section 27 of the Trustee Act 1925
- Early Distribution – Unknown Dependants – The Inheritance (Provisions for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.Executry and Guardianship Bonds of Caution operating in Scotland
- Capital Gains Tax Holdover Relief cases
- Case-specific executor indemnity protecting executor against distribution should beneficiaries’ challenge
- Charity beneficiary cases
CLS PI also provides a variety of bespoke products to support the estate administration process and is constantly evolving its products and insurance solutions.
Standing still is not an option for legal professionals who want to evolve and digitalise their services so CLS PI has launched:
- A new suite of insurance products and search solutions to support probate lawyers
- The digitalisation of our standard products (Section 27 of the Trustee Act 1925 and Bonds of Caution) to provide online solutions to speed up the process of putting these policies in place with as little administration and hassle as possible for busy legal professionals
The CLS PI underwriting team is results driven and Roy is proud to say that CLS PI is a market leader in estate administration risk management and insurance products through cost-effective and comprehensive insurance solutions.
Evidence of this can be seen by CLS PI’s NPS score of above 80. We view our score as a reflection of Roy’s hard work and the quality of service CLS provides.
Why is estate administration insurance support important?
As the Underwriting Director at CLS PI, Roy Partington is keen to get the message across that:
- Insurance can support estate administration solicitors at all stages of the probate process from the initial gathering of information through to preparation for the Grant of Representation, at the stage of Grant of Probate, or Confirmation in Scotland.
- It is never too early to start considering insurance solutions as it is easier to look at insurance options at the initial stages of the estate administration process
- Whether a law firm is based in England, Wales, Scotland, Guernsey, or is a niche estate administration practice or a busy high street firm the need for insurance is just the same
- Insurance products do not just protect executors. They can help law firms reduce PI claims (and therefore PI costs) as well as protect the executors, trustees, personal representatives, and the beneficiaries receiving a distribution from an estate
- Insurance products should not be overlooked just because they are not a legal requirement. For example, the Section 27 of the Trustee Act 1925 is not a legal requirement but it is a very helpful product
- To reduce the risks of exposure and problems in getting insurance coverage, estate administrators should work with professionals wherever possible. For example, instead of relying on an amateur or local genealogist or a family historian to conduct research, a probate solicitor should try to instruct a professional genealogist who will produce a report to a standard acceptable to an insurer. That approach avoids additional reports becoming necessary, with consequent delays in finalising the distribution of the estate and additional expense
Genealogical reports, estate administration risk management, and insurance
With over 50 years of underwriting experience, it is not surprising that Roy Partington has come across a number of cases where a genealogist report has not been acceptable for a variety of reasons.
Although CLS PI does not hold an approved list of genealogy report providers, we recognise that it is in the interests of everyone involved in an estate administration for a genealogy report to demonstrate acceptability by:
- High-quality report writing with detailed and explained analysis and findings
- Use of correct skill sets to identify family trees and conduct a detailed examination as necessary
- Specific findings without missing information, gaps, or unidentified data
- Identification of sources
- A summary and record of enquiries undertaken
- A synopsis of expertise to demonstrate the experience of the report provider and their qualifications and training
- Reference to specific skill sets, such as overseas enquiries and research
- Absence of reporting limitations and caveats unless the reasons are fully detailed and justified so the legal professional and insurer can rely on the contents of the report
The importance of quality genealogists reports
Roy Partington knows from his many years of underwriting experience that information and family trees provided by members of the family are often inaccurate or incomplete. Just as concerning can be the choice of a generalist report provider chosen on the basis of cost and speed.
These approaches to genealogical research can actually increase time and expense because they can create difficulty in obtaining insurance if the insurer cannot draw adequate conclusions or comfort from the level and quality of the genealogy report provided. The insurer may either be unable to offer any terms or the insurance cost has to reflect the increased risks.
At CLS PI our underwriting team has had to decline enquiries where the genealogy report did not provide the quality information required to proceed with the cover. This is always frustrating as we would ideally like to be able to respond positively to most estate administration insurance enquiries.
Whilst CLS PI does not have a list of approved genealogists, we do maintain a detailed selection and approval criteria for report providers.
What should legal professionals search for in an indemnity policy provider?
Estate administrators don’t just need a quality genealogist report. They also need insurance coverage they can trust and rely on. The policy must be capable of being claimed against during the whole period of insurance. That means the quality of the insurer and their financial strength is key to a legal professional’s choice of insurance provider as well as the experience and expertise of the insurer and the underwriting agency or administrator who is providing the insurance solution.
Whilst coverage and experience are the minimum requirements, legal professionals should also look for an insurer who is willing and able to provide bespoke insurance solutions. At CLS PI we pride ourselves on finding solutions to insurance problems so our underwriting team is always happy to find out what the problem is and to see if we can devise a case-specific solution. Do legal professionals recognise the value of genealogical research and insurance provision?
When estate administrators are under pressure from executors and beneficiaries to distribute an estate, you get a range of attitudes to genealogical research and Legal Indemnity Insurance from legal professionals, such as:
- A concern that genealogical research or insurance will take time and money
- A belief that Legal Indemnity Insurance replaces the need for a genealogy report
In addition to beneficiaries wanting their inheritances, legal professionals can also be influenced in their views on genealogical research and insurance by a range of other factors, including the legal professionals being either:
- Unaware of the availability of bespoke insurance that is quick to arrange and competitively priced or
- Eager to finalise an estate as quickly as possible without realising that reports and insurance can be obtained quickly and cannot only smooth and speed the distribution of an estate but also minimise the risk of future complaints or litigation against the executors or law firm. Insurance protects the legal practitioner as well as the executors or personal representatives and the potential beneficiaries. It therefore de-risks the estate administration process for all concerned at an often-modest cost for the protection gained
Insurance should definitely be seen as an add-on or support for genealogical enquiries and research rather than a stand-alone solution. The role of specialist underwriters like CLS PI is to ensure best practice by being part of the solution, coming in after the hard work has been undertaken by the probate solicitors and genealogists.
Some case studies of underwriters working with estate administrators and genealogists
With over 20 years of experience in estate administration risk insurance, here is a flavour of some of the cases where Roy Partington and CLS PI have worked with probate solicitors and genealogists:
- The deceased died intestate. The deceased’s mother was known but there was no named or known father. The estate was distributed to the mother with cover in place in case of a future challenge by the unknown father
- The testator left his estate to his brother under his Will. The brother then died intestate after the deceased. His share of his brother’s estate was distributed to his widow (whom he married in Portugal in 2020). The cover was provided in respect of potential challenge from nieces and nephews of the deceased
- The deceased left a legacy to his sister-in-law in his 2019 Will. After a detailed inquiry, the sister-in-law could not be located. Cover for the named legatee was provided to cover a claim by the missing sister-in-law should she appear after the estate distribution
- There was a missing named beneficiary under a deceased’s Will. Detailed research was undertaken and the missing beneficiary was discovered to have previously lived in France and Belgium. Further enquiries were undertaken by the genealogist report provider who had overseas reach and experience in conducting international investigations
Want to know more about other estate administration solutions we can support you with, from more insurance solutions as well as key searches which we have to offer?
To register for the free 40-minute webinar , titled “How to reduce claims when administering an estate” on Jan 31st, 2023 11:00 AM GMT go to:
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This article was submitted to be published by CLS Property Insight as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills and Probate.