ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

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.

What are the benefits of probate accreditation

Currently around a quarter of ICAEW’s 10,000-strong membership offer estate administration services. The ability to conduct non-contentious probate enables practitioners to provide a seamless service to their clients rather than having to pass this largely administrative process to a solicitor. Firms can provide a faster and more cost effective all-round service and in most cases one that is cheaper than banks and lawyers.

Probate work therefore offers your firm a real business opportunity to provide a cradle-to-grave service to your clients. Combining estate administration and probate enables you to provide a one-stop-shop for your business advisory services as probate is a natural adjunct to your private client work.

ICAEW can also license your firm as an Alternative Business Structure (ABS). This means you can bring together solicitors and non-legal professionals to develop a whole host of other legal services on the coattails of probate, opening up all sorts of opportunities for expansion and modernisation.

When should our firm apply for ICAEW accreditation to conduct probate work?

By law, you need to be accredited by a legal regulator before you undertake any probate activity. For detailed guidance on the type of work that requires accreditation please read Regulatory Advice on when to seek accreditation for probate.

To become an accredited for probate services, you must either apply to become an authorised firm by an approved regulator or a licensed firm by a licensing authority. ICAEW is both an approved regulator and licensing authority for probate.

How do we know whether to apply to become an authorised licensed firm?

  • In a probate authorised firm, all the principals and owners of the firm are individually authorised to carry out probate work.
  • In a licensed firm (also known as an alternative business structure or ABS), 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.

The application process

Before you start the application process, we strongly recommend you read the following information to avoid any delays with your application.

  1. These Flowcharts outline the probate application processes and the forms that need to be filled out.
  2. This Additional Guidance issued by the probate committee relating to non-disclosure of material facts.

    Non-disclosure of material facts in probate application forms is a serious matter which will be referred to the probate committee. The committee could decide to refuse your application and may also refer members to the professional conduct department if the non-disclosure is viewed as a deliberate attempt to mislead.

  3. The application forms, as these also contain guidance on the application process.

Please note that all accredited firms will need to be subject to ICAEW's Practice Assurance Scheme and comply with ICAEW's Professional Indemnity Insurance Arrangements and diversity monitoring requirments

How to apply to become an authorised firm for probate services

Firms that wish to apply to become an authorised firm must:

  1. complete the application to become an accredited probate firm
  2. determine which individuals are to be appointed as authorised individuals for probate work and ensure that they are suitably qualified in accordance with the Probate Regulations and
  3. complete an application to appoint: authorised individual for each person

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

Please note that applications to appoint authorised individuals applying under the ICAEW Probate Regulation 4.1c route will require a basic to be sent in with the application.

Regulation 4.1c applies to non-ICAEW members who have been awarded a probate qualification but not by an approved regulator. See Qualification criteria for more information.

A principal may also need to apply to become a probate affiliate. Further details are available in the probate affiliate section below.

How to apply to become a licensed firm for probate services

Firms that wish to apply for a licence must:

  1. complete and return the application to become an accredited firm and
  2. appoint a Head of Legal Practice and a Head of Finance and Administration by completing and returning application to appoint a Head of Legal Practice and Head of Finance and Administration. These persons have special compliance responsibilities under the Legal Services Act 2007 and the Probate Regulations and must be suitably qualified in accordance with the Probate Regulations.

Before applying your firm must also ensure the following are suitably qualified in accordance with the Probate Regulations to be appointed as authorised individuals for probate work:

  1. the required number of principals (see Probate Regulation 2.3;
  2. the Head of Legal Practice (HoLP);
  3. persons holding a ‘material interest’ in the firm (as defined by Probate Regulation 6.2);
  4. persons who will be conducting or controlling the conduct of probate for the applicant firm.

If a person or firm holding a ‘material interest’ in the applicant firm does not wish to be individually authorised to conduct probate they and the firm will need to complete an Application to approve a non-authorised owner of a licensed firm.

Please use a separate form for each non authorised owner. Associates of the non-authorised owner (NAO) as defined by Probate Regulation 6.3 should be put on the same form as the NAO.

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

Please note Head of Legal Practice (HoLP), Head of Finance and Administration (HoFA) and non-authorised owners applicants will need to undergo a standard Disclosure and Barring Service check.

Individuals applying for authorisation under the ICAEW Probate Regulation 4.1c route will require a basic Disclosure and Barring Service check to be sent in with the application.

Regulation 4.1c applies to non-ICAEW members who have been awarded a probate qualification but not by an approved regulator. See Qualification criteria for more information.

Principals may also need to apply to become a probate affiliate, details of which are in the Probate Affiliate section below.

Probate affiliates

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);
  • an accredited probate firm;
  • registered auditors;
  • DPB (Investment Business) licensed firms; or
  • affiliates of ICAEW under the Audit, DPB (Investment Business), 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.

Fees

Probate application fees are calculated using the total number of principals in the firm, employee authorised individuals and probate affiliates and the number of offices out of which probate work will be undertaken.

A probate affiliate will be counted in the fee scales once as a principal and once as an affiliate so will essentially be counted twice. There are no additional fees for affiliates.

Standard DBS checks are required for Head of Legal Practice, Head of Finance and Administration and non-authorised owners. These cost £49 per DBS check.

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 standard DBS checks 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 Probate Regulations route 4.1c (for example, ACCA, STEP, CIOT members), you’ll need to arrange your own basic DBS check to be sent in with your application. Visit www.gov.uk/dbs.

Professional indemnity insurance

Accredited probate firms are required to comply with ICAEW’s professional indemnity insurance arrangements and to 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 these activities are covered by their existing and any future policies.

If your firm already holds PII at this limit, you will not need to take any further action.

Some 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 the right option for your firm with your broker.

Determining applications

The Legal Services Act allows six months to determine each application (from the day all the required information is received by ICAEW). We monitor our performance against this target. As of 31 December 2017, 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.

Further support

If you require further information about the application process, please email regulatorysupport@icaew.com or call +44 (0)1908 546 302.