What is probate?
Probate is a term used generically to refer to the process of dealing with the estate of a deceased person. The people who are legally entitled to deal with the estate of the person who has died are known as ‘personal representatives’. The probate process ensures that relevant taxes are calculated and paid, money owing to creditors and owed by debtors is collected, and, if a will has been made, the deceased’s remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with his or her wishes.
The relevant obligations and procedures can be overwhelming during an already difficult and emotional period. As your trusted advisors, we are here to guide you through the complexities of probate.
Benefits of using an accountant for probate?
Since we already manage your accounts and finances, we have an intimate knowledge of your situation which enables us to understand your needs and case better. We can offer a complete probate service enabling the entire process to be dealt with by one professional, saving you both time and money.
Our suitably qualified probate specialist can provide an overview of the process and provide assistance in relation to specific aspects if that is what you prefer. Where appropriate, we may also be able to provide technical insight regarding the tax implications as well offering practical support during this difficult time.
Our services range from providing assistance to obtain a probate, to inheritance tax and capital gains tax advice, and the management of the estate in accordance with the Will, or otherwise appropriately in the case of a sudden death.
Services Include (but are not limited to):
- Sending notifications of death to relevant organisations
- Assessing whether there is any entitlement to bereavement allowances or benefits
- Reviewing the validity of the Will, any codicils, and legacies
- Identify the composition of the estate and work out whether a grant is needed
- Value the estate
- Prepare and submit inheritance tax forms
- Calculating the tax position up to the date of death and for the period of administration of the estate
- Prepare and submit applications for a grant of probate or a grant of administration
- Place statutory notices of death in the London Gazette
- Take control of estate’s assets
- Settle any debts of the estate
- Pay any legacies and transfer the balance to the residuary beneficiaries
- Prepare accounts for the estate
While there is a cost associated with obtaining probate services, this can be seen in relation to the size and complexity of the estate, along with the emotional and practical difficulties faced when a death occurs.
Stages in the Probate process
WAYFINDERS Consulting can assist with various stages of the probate process. Here is a general summary of the stages and timeframes involved:
|Stage of process
|Initial Assessment: WAYFINDERS Consulting will review the information provided by the personal representative of the deceased person, this will include the estate’s assets, liabilities and the overall complexity of the estate. We will gather relevant documents such as the will, death certificate, and financial records to review the estate’s value and determine if probate is required and what Inheritance Tax Forms are required.
|Preparation of Inheritance Tax Forms: WAYFINDERS Consulting will calculate the inheritance tax liability based on the estate’s value and exemptions. We will prepare the necessary inheritance tax forms, such as the IHT400 form and the schedules, or the IHT205 for an excepted estate.
|2 -8 Weeks
|Submission of Inheritance Tax Forms: Once the inheritance tax forms are prepared, they will be submitted to HMRC along with any required supporting documentation. The time taken for HMRC to process these forms can vary, typically ranging from a few weeks to a few months.
|2 – 4 Weeks
|Application for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration: We will prepare and submit the application for a Grant of Probate to the Probate Registry. This application includes the necessary forms and the appropriate fee. The Probate Registry may take several weeks to process the application.
|4 – 12 Weeks
|Response from Probate Registry: The Probate Registry may take several weeks to process the application. In our experience, we advise clients to allow 4 – 12 Weeks to receive the Grant of Probate (if there is a Will) or Letters of Administration (if there is not a Will).
Note that the time frame for any stage can vary significantly depending on the circumstances of the case, any unforeseen issues and case management workloads at HMRC and at the Probate Registry.
Estate Administration and Distribution (3-9 months or longer). As well as assisting in the preparation of papers for the application of Probate/Grant of Administration, WAYFINDERS Consulting can also assist in the management and distribution of the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the Will or intestacy rules (if there is no Will). The timeframe for this can depends on the circumstances of each case. As an indication, we would suggest that clients allow a minimum of 3 months and keep in mind that a timeframe for the administration and distribution of an estate of 6 – 9 months is not unusual.
This section provides information about how our fees are determined so we can provide clarity for our clients.
Our fees are based on the estimated time required to complete the probate application process and to undertake any other work requested.
The application process would include the following:
- Identifying and verifying the status of the executors (if there is a Will and confirmed executors) or administrators (if no Will has been left by the deceased). The executives or administrators are known as the personal representatives (PRs) of the deceased.
- Reviewing the estate of the deceased to ascertain the nature of the probate application and whether inheritance tax is payable.
- Gathering and completing the relevant Inheritance Tax and probate forms.
- Assisting the personal representatives to value the estate and to obtain independent valuations if required.
- To communicate and liaise with HMRC and the Probate Office with any queries.
How the fees are determined
Estimated hours to:
- Verify the personal representatives and to undertake the probate application process
- Ascertain the value of the estate and to determine the IHT implications
- If required, to undertake any other activities to advise about income tax and capital gains and options for mitigating inheritance tax
- Fulfil any other requirements for the personal representatives
Charge out rates:
- The estimated hours would be specified according to the skill level of the person(s) required to assess the IHT and other tax implications and to prepare the probate application
- The hourly rate for the appropriate person(s) would then be applied to the estimated hours
- Our hourly rates range from £150 to £450 per hour (+VAT)
Disbursements and other costs:
- Any third party disbursements and other costs (+ VAT) would be agreed with you in advance and would be additional costs at the rate of cost incurred.
- As of 1 January 2022, the probate application fee is £273 for estates over £5000. This would be the main disbursement unless, along with the costs or professional valuations costs payable to independent third parties approved by you
Indication of fees
- For straight forward cases, if the estate value is less than £325,000, our fees would typically be in the range of £2,250 – £3,750 + disbursements + VAT
- Although there are no “typical” probate cases, please note that usually our fees range from £3,250 – £8,500 + disbursements + VAT
- Would always discuss and agree the fees with you in advance, advise you about the general process and the provide an indication of the timelines
Administration of the estate
The personal representatives undertake the administration of the estate in terms of making the disbursements to the beneficiaries listed in the Will. They are responsible for paying the inheritance tax and for completing any matters relating to the deceased such as submission of the tax return for the period to death and for reporting any tax related matters. The taxes that are usually payable are income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax.
For many situations, it is likely that our assistance will only be required to obtain probate and for advice regarding inheritance tax.
Where an estate is more complex and has many assets or assets in different countries, or where the terms of the Will or the situation of the beneficiaries requires specialist attention, we can help to ensure that the estate is administered smoothly and with the minimum of distress and disruption to the personal representatives and the family.
We are authorised to assist the personal representatives with the administration of the estate. We are authorised to provide a full estate administration service.
This means obtaining provide, calculating, reporting and paying the required taxes and making transfers and distributions in accordance with the Will subject to specific instruction from the personal representatives. The costs of administration would be based as above and we can provide an estimate after discussing the situation with you.
Our complaints procedure
Our aim is to provide you with service and advice of the highest quality. If, at any time, you are dissatisfied with any aspect of the work we have performed, we hope that you will bring your concern to our attention.
As part of our quality control procedures, we operate a formal system by which we undertake to investigate any complaint carefully and promptly, take the appropriate action to resolve the matter and fully discuss the position with you.
If you would like to talk to us about how we could improve our service to you, or if you are unhappy with the service you are receiving, please let us know by contacting the firm’s Principal Mr Ghulam Alahi or the Head of Legal Practice Mr. Atul Thakrar.
We will carefully consider any complaint you may make about our probate or estate administration work as soon as we receive it and do all we can to resolve it. We will acknowledge your letter within five business days of its receipt and endeavour to deal with it within eight weeks. If we do not deal with your complaint in this time, or if you are unhappy with our response, you may of course take up the matter with the Legal Ombudsman.
The Legal Ombudsman’s ability to deal with your complaint is dependent on the following factors:
- you must refer the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman no later than:
- six years from the act/omission; or
- three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint; and
- you must refer the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of the date of our written response.
Contact details for the Legal Ombudsman
T: 0300 555 0333
Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ
ICAEW Probate Compensation Scheme
WAYFINDERS Consulting is licensed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) to provide non contentious Probate Services. As part of our commitment to providing professional and reliable services, we adhere to the ICAEW Compensation Scheme for Probate.
The ICAEW Compensation Scheme for Probate is designed to provide protection to clients in the unlikely event of fraud or other dishonesty by the accredited probate firm in conducting authorized work (i.e., probate and estate administration); or a failure by the accredited probate firm to account for monies received in the course of authorized work. It offers an additional layer of security and peace of mind to our valued clients.
Key features of the ICAEW Compensation Scheme for Probate include:
- Financial protection: The scheme provides financial protection to eligible clients. This means that you may be entitled to compensation for any financial loss suffered as a direct result of the probate professional’s insolvency.
- Eligibility criteria: To be eligible for compensation under the scheme, clients must have a valid claim and meet certain criteria established by the ICAEW. The scheme covers individuals and organizations that have engaged the services of a probate professional regulated by the ICAEW.
- Claim submission process: Clients who believe they are eligible for compensation must follow the prescribed claim submission process outlined by the ICAEW online. This typically involves providing necessary documentation and evidence to support the claim.
In accordance with the Probate Compensation Scheme Regulations, grants from the scheme will be wholly at the discretion of the Probate Committee and will be subject to a limit of £500,000 per estate. Applicants will usually need to apply to ICAEW for a grant within 12 months of the loss first coming to their attention, and will need to show that they have exhausted all other available remedies
It is important to note that the ICAEW Compensation Scheme for Probate is separate from any professional indemnity insurance held by the probate professional. It provides an additional layer of protection to clients, ensuring that their interests are safeguarded in unforeseen circumstances.
As a member of the ICAEW, WAYFINDERS Consulting is dedicated to upholding the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. By participating in the ICAEW Compensation Scheme for Probate, we demonstrate our commitment to providing excellent probate services while ensuring our clients’ interests are protected.
Licensed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales to carry out the reserved legal activity of non-contentious probate in England and Wales.
Details of the firm’s probate registration can be viewed at icaew.com/probate, under the firm’s reference number C004563153.