ICAEW has been regulating accountancy firms offering non-contentious probate services for almost a decade. Yet, many people still don’t realise they can turn to probate-accredited accountants to administer an estate and apply for the grant of probate.
A trusted adviserA solicitor might be the first professional that springs to mind when you need support with the complexities involved in probate. Often this may be because they prepared, or are holding, the will.
But there are other options that might better suit your needs. A range of professionals provide probate services and, where the matter is not contentious, an accountant could be the right choice.
As trusted advisers, accountants have all the technical and personal skills necessary to provide an efficient, empathetic, joined-up and cost-effective probate service.
Why could an accountant be the right choice?
Personal relationships and the human touchAccountants typically build long term relationships and communicate regularly with clients and their families.
If you’re an executor and you choose your own or your loved one’s accountant, you’re likely to be dealing with someone you already know and trust at what is a difficult and distressing time.
Where the accountant has previously handled your loved one’s finances, they’ll also have in-depth knowledge of their financial affairs, sometimes developed over decades.
Even if you opt for a new accountant, you’ll benefit from specialist tax and financial expertise, which will make dealing with a complex estate more straightforward.
Financial knowledge and expertiseThe day-to-day financial work, including tax planning, that accountants carry out makes them ideally placed for probate. They know what financial questions to ask, and where to find the information you need.
In many cases, probate solicitors need to bring in accountant colleagues to deal with common financial issues, such as inheritance tax calculations or valuing shares.
Choosing an accountant at the start can streamline the process, saving time, resources and unnecessary duplication.
Efficiency and value for moneyThe cost of probate is often a worry. But using an accountant can be cost effective, particularly in complex cases.
Accountants have professional expertise you can rely on and often offer transparent and comprehensive fixed-fee terms for a package of services.
Because accountants provide a holistic range of services, they can also offer wider support to help you and your family move forward. This could include financial future-proofing for the next generation.
Unbundling servicesOne way of minimising probate costs is to agree to carry out some of the administrative tasks yourself.
This is known as ‘unbundling’ and your accountant may be able to help you with this and offer expert advice where needed.
Research by the Legal Services Consumer Panel shows that unbundling can reduce overall costs and provide a greater sense of ownership and control of the process. Speak to your accountant for further information and to agree what this might look like in your case.
Clare Francis: Clear communication and transparency
Clare Francis’s first port of call for probate support was her parents’ accountant.
Sam Crossby: The human touch
Chartered accountants Ward Williams offered the right combination of empathy and expertise to deal with probate for Sam Crossby’s mother’s estate.
Find an ICAEW probate accredited accountant
The benefits of using a regulated Chartered Accountant
If you are seeking accountancy advice, you want to be reassured your accountant has the appropriate education, experience and qualifications (see Professional services), to provide high quality independent advice and services – after all, you wouldn't go to an unqualified or unregulated doctor for medical advice. If you select an unqualified or unregulated accountant to handle your finances or tax work, you may have nowhere to turn if there are problems with the quality of their advice, their conduct or their standards of service. This is where ICAEW, ICAEW Chartered Accountants and ICAEW firms can help.