Kreston Reeves became licensed by ICAEW to undertake non-contentious probate work in November 2014.
Over the years, some of the firm’s partners had acted as executors for clients but the firm wanted to develop a more formal specialism that could become a real fee generator for the future. Probate works supplements the firm’s existing personal tax, trust and wealth management expertise.
The firm felt that to do this work properly they needed to train a team to provide a consistent professional service across all offices. As a consequence 16 people undertook the initial training courses and four partners, led by the Executive Chairman, Clive Stevens, went forward to take the formal assessment.
The firm now has a dedicated team of individuals drawn from all office locations with the capability to undertake this work under the supervision of the licensed partners. Within three months of becoming licensed the firm found that it was dealing with 35 active probate cases. They have also identified over 100 clients who have appointed the firm to be their executor in future.
One of these cases relates to a client who died last year with an estate valued at just under £1 million. His family preferred Kreston Reeves to undertake the probate work on behalf of the executors, rather than the lawyers who drew up the original will, as the firm were already trusted advisers. This enabled the family to complete the probate process more quickly and cheaply than might otherwise have been the case because a lot of the detailed information about the client’s assets, insurance and pensions was already held by the firm. There was no ‘learning curve’ needed to capture the base information needed to commence the process.
Kreston Reeves is seeking to grow this service to be able to manage 75–100 cases per year. This could result in up to £800,000 of additional fee revenue. With a client base of 5,000 personal tax clients this seems a quite manageable target.