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How to apply and application forms

If your firm would like to apply to become an accredited firm for probate, please read the following guidance and complete the application forms below.

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When should a firm apply for a probate licence?

Probate offers firms a real business opportunity, but success depends on far more than passing the exams and waiting for clients to die. Read more

Regulatory advice is available to help your firm decide if it should apply for a probate licence. 

 Definitions

  • An authorised firm is one where all the principals and owners of the firm are individually authorised to carry out probate work.
  • licensed firm (also known as an Alternative Business Structure or ABS) is one where not all principals or owners are authorised for probate (although at least one principal – either an individual or a corporate entity - must be an authorised person). 

The application process

In order to apply for probate accreditation, firms will need to complete and return a firm application form and pay the appropriate fee. Firms will also need to be subject to ICAEW’s Practice Assurance Scheme and comply with diversity monitoring requirements.

In accordance with the Probate Regulations, only individuals who are suitably qualified will be able to carry out, or control the undertaking of, probate work. These persons will need to apply to become authorised individuals by completing the application form for authorised individuals.

If firms wish to become licensed, they will need to appoint a Head of Legal Practice (HoLP) and Head of Finance and Administration (HoFA). These persons have special compliance responsibilities under the Legal Services Act 2007 and the Probate Regulations. Firms will need to complete an application to appoint a Head of Legal Practice and Head of Finance and Administration

All principals of the applicant firm (ie partners, members of an LLP or directors; or individuals or persons who are held out as being partners, members of an LLP or directors) must be;

  • members of ICAEW;
  • members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS);
  • members of Chartered Accountant Ireland (CAI);
  • members of another approved regulator under the Legal Services Act 2007 (the Act);
  • accredited probate firm;
  • registered auditors
  • DPB-licensed firms; or
  • Affiliates of ICAEW under the Audit, DPB, Insolvency or Use of the description regulations.

If a principal is not one of the above they must be granted probate affiliate status by completing and submitting the application for probate affiliate status form.

If a principal applying for authorisation is a body, you will need to complete an application to become an authorised body

If a non-authorised person holds a ‘material interest' in a firm that is seeking to be licensed (as defined by the Probate Regulations) that person will need to be approved by ICAEW. They and the firm will need to complete an application to approve a non-authorised owner of a licensed firm

Firms should note that applications to appoint some authorised individuals; HoLPs; HoFAs and non-authorised owners will require those persons to undergo Disclosure and Barring Service checks (formerly known as CRB checks).

You may find it helpful to refer to these flowcharts which outline the application processes for authorisation and licensing and the forms that need to be filled out.

IMPORTANT: before downloading any application forms please ensure you have read Additional guidance issued by the Probate Committee on non-disclosure of material facts

Fees

Access information about ICAEW fees, and the fees we collect on behalf of other organisations, including information on how to pay them. There is also a useful FAQs page.

DBS checks

Sterling Back Check, (an agency acting on behalf of ICAEW) will perform a standard DBS check on Heads of Legal Practice, Heads of Finance and Administration, and non-authorised owners. The agency will send you an email once it has completed its check on you. This can take up to four weeks. If, after four weeks, you’ve still not received an email from Sterling Back Check, please email regulatorysupport@icaew.com and we will investigate. This will help avoid unnecessary delays. 

If you’re applying through route 4.1c (for example, ACCA, STEP, CIOT members), you’ll need to arrange your own DBS basic check. Visit www.disclosurescotland.co.uk.

Professional indemnity insurance

Accredited probate firms are required to comply with ICAEW’s professional indemnity insurance arrangements and hold a minimum limit of indemnity of £500k per claim for authorised work (ie, probate and estate administration). We advise all firms to speak with their broker to ensure that these activities are covered by their existing and any future policies. 

Some firms may already hold PII at this limit and so will not need to take any further action.

Other firms may wish to increase their overall limit of indemnity to cover all the firm’s activities. In some cases it may be possible to arrange an extension of cover at this limit purely for claims arising in connection with probate work or estate administration. You should discuss with your broker the right option for your firm.

Determining applications

The Legal Services Act allows six months to determine each application (beginning on the day all information required on the application form is received). We monitor our performance against this target. As of 31 October 2016, all applications have been processed within the timescales set out in the Legal Services Act.

ICAEW may extend this timeframe to nine months by issuing an extension notice to the applicant. If we need to do this – for example, in particularly complex cases, or if we require further information – we will send you a notice giving our reasons for extending the timeframe.

Download application forms

Download the application forms you need, save them to your computer and fill them in electronically, saving as you go.

IMPORTANT: before downloading any application forms please ensure you have read Additional guidance issued by the Probate Committee on non-disclosure of material facts.

Once you've completed each form, print and sign it. Remember to save the completed version for your records.

All forms should be completed, signed and returned to: 

Professional Standards, Regulatory Support 
ICAEW
Metropolitan House
321 Avebury Boulevard
Milton Keynes
MK9 2FZ 
UK
If you require further information about the application process, please email regulatorysupport@icaew.com or call +44 (0)1908 546 302.