Probate can be daunting, especially if you’re time-pressured or worried about solicitors’ fees spiralling out of control. Thankfully there’s a simpler and more cost-effective option: ask us to help you.
Although accountants are now regulated to carry out non-contentious probate work, few local firms are qualified to do so. Fortunately we are qualified in this area, so we’re able to support our clients in ways other general practices can’t.
It’s our job to look after our individual clients as much as we can. Whilst we don’t write Wills, we can administer an estate for you and help you through what can be a complicated and distressing process.
Unlike solicitors and banks we may already know the finances involved and can tell you how much tax is due.
Probate is the official proving of a Will. It is carried out by an executor – the person appointed to administer a person’s estate when they die. This could be a family member, friend, accountant, or other professional specified in the Will. If there is no valid Will, then there are rules to decide who should administer the estate.
Before assets can be distributed, the person administering the Will must apply to the probate registry for a ‘grant of representation’. Probate is, in essence, the process of obtaining this grant so the terms of the Will can be carried out.
Normally yes. But there are some exceptions. For example, when the deceased’s assets are worth less than £5,000 or when a property passes directly to a spouse who is a joint tenant. However, it’s always best to check with your professional adviser before assuming that probate is not required.
The timescale for probate applications varies greatly. It depends on the complexity of the estate. As a general guide it can take between three and twelve months.
In some cases it’s possible for executors to administer a straightforward estate by themselves. If this applies to you, please talk to us about our grant only service which costs as little as £500 plus VAT. Please see ‘Our Fees’ below for more information.
Accountants have traditionally been able to assist with preparing the grant of probate – particularly the Inheritance Tax Return. However, until recently they were not able to file for the grant of probate itself. This was a legal service reserved for solicitors.
This all changed in 2018 when the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) became an approved regulator for probate services. This means that accountants like us can obtain a licence to provide a full probate service – either as a standalone service or working alongside legal professionals.
We are in an ideal position to deal with probate and estate administration because we really appreciate the financial and tax affairs of all our clients. We also have a real appreciation of the deceased’s intentions plus, in many cases, an existing relationship with family members acting as executors.
This familiarity is a real advantage. Indeed, our advice and support can really help to relieve the pressure at what’s bound to be a difficult time.
Probate can be a distressing time so we make our fees as transparent as possible. There are two stages to resolving someone’s estate and we price our fees separately for each stage.
Before the executors can distribute the deceased’s estate, they must first obtain permission from the probate registry. This involves the following:
For simpler estates with no Inheritance Tax payable (typically estates valued up to £500,000 where a property is involved) our fee will be £500 plus VAT plus disbursements*.
For higher value estates with Inheritance Tax payable our fee will be £1,000 plus VAT plus disbursements*.
* Please note that in all cases our fees exclude VAT and disbursements. As a minimum, a probate application fee of £215 is payable to the registry office
Once the probate registry processes the forms from Stage 1, they will issue a ‘grant of representation’ which allows the estate to be distributed.
The next steps are as follows:
Although executors and representatives may be able to administer simpler estates themselves, the process can be a very time consuming and stressful one. Therefore it’s often prudent to appoint a professional firm like ourselves to help.
This stage of the process is different for every estate and therefore our costs are calculated on a time basis which varies according to the complexity of the work.
However, we will cap our fees at a certain level to give you some reassurance and certainty. This way you’ll know the absolute maximum that our fee will be.
Most solicitors and banks will charge a fixed percentage (normally 2% or more) of the value of an estate – regardless of the complexity. Therefore, you are likely to pay an unfair premium if the estate is straightforward.
For example, a 2% fee for a simple estate valued at £300,000 with two bank accounts and a pension would cost £6,000 plus VAT. By comparison, our charges based on the anticipated time required would be approximately £1,250 to £1,875 plus VAT.
Thinking about the practical, legal and financial consequences of your passing now can save your family a great deal of stress and uncertainty in the future.
Our team of experienced probate advisers are here to answer any questions you may have, and help you develop a plan in the most straightforward and sensitive manner possible.
As licensed probate accountants, we can act as executors if you’d prefer a professional to help your family deal with probate and estate administration.
We work closely with local experts to craft your Will, so you can be confident that your money, property and valued possessions will go exactly where you want them to go.
Smart planning now can save you thousands later. Talk to us about softening the blow of Inheritance Tax for your loved ones.
We ensure that clients get the most from their assets before and after passing. We can also advise on the use of gifts as a way to mitigate IHT.
Trusts are flexible and give you the freedom to choose how and when your beneficiaries receive the funds.
Our team work with local experts to advise on and set-up trusts. We can oversee the entire process from start to finish and then look after the ongoing reporting and taxation of the trust.
As a business owner, you must have an effective exit plan in place. We can help you with everything from deciding how your shares are dealt with to looking at key people who could take over the business.
We understand that planning ahead can be a delicate subject. But doing this now rather than later will ensure that your wishes are met and your family will be looked after in the future.
To discuss how we can help you and your loved ones please get in touch today. Our team are just a phone call away.
"It’s a great situation to be in when you have someone who’s extremely competent, you trust them, and you feel that they’re on your side. Auker Hutton has proven to be one of the best business relationships I could have. They really listen, take time to get to know you, and it never feels like an off-the-shelf service."
Beverly Landais, PCC
Beverly Landais Executive Coaching, Tunbridge Wells