Let your accountant handle probate

Will and testament sealed with rope and wax stamp

The decision to hire a solicitor or an accountant to handle probate may seem trivial when you’re grieving, but choosing one over the other is likely to save you money.

Since 2014, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales or ICAEW has been given the approval to regulate probate services, meaning qualified ICAEW chartered accountants can be licensed to provide probate services.

At Berley Chartered Accountants, we are licensed by ICAEW to carry out non-contentious probate in England and Wales, giving consumers an alternative to traditional probate providers like solicitors and banks.

Over the past few years, we have helped families across London with probate services, saving them time and money in the process. In this post, we aim to discuss uncontested or non-contentious probate and why hiring a chartered accountant to handle the probate process makes sense.

Uncontested probate is common

When a loved one passes away, the process to manage their financial affairs can be daunting. In the media, we often hear about the time of grieving becoming a time of family conflicts – with next of kin arguing over their inheritance, questioning the validity of a will, hiring lawyers and taking issues to court.

In reality, though, many families respect the last will and testament made by the deceased and do not intend to contest it. This is known as non-contentious probate. In England and Wales, licensed accountants like Berley are allowed to conduct non-contentious probate. In the event of a dispute, it will become contentious probate and require a specialist probate lawyer to continue with the process. Once the point of contention is settled, the probate application can revert to the accountant.

Top benefits of having your accountant handle probate

Accountants have the skills and knowledge to carry out probate

Probate is a highly numerical matter as it involves money, valuation and tax – areas that accountants are trained to handle. Whether the accountant you choose to handle probate is someone you already rely on for financial advice or a newly acquainted person recommended by a friend, accountants are well-versed in accountant and tax law, hence well-placed to carry out probate.

Lawyers need to use an accountant anyway

As mentioned in the point above, probate is mostly a financial matter, which requires input from an accountant and includes anything from valuation to inheritance tax. In the event that you hire a lawyer to manage probate, he/she is likely to require the service of an accountant and passes the cost on to you.

Tax issues

Apart from gathering information pertaining to assets and liabilities of the deceased, our accountants can also help you to prepare any personal tax returns that are required up to the date of death and answer any capital gain tax and inheritance tax enquiries you may have. At the end of the probate process, we also assist in preparing a set of final accounts detailing all the money received and paid out.

For the record, capital gains tax is applicable if the property or assets of the deceased are sold during probate and its value rose since the person died. Meanwhile, inheritance tax is due if the estate is worth more than £325,000.

Accountants can be more cost-effective

Most law firms charge a percentage of the estate. Even if you think the estate is small, this could end up being a large sum of money once you factor in things like property and savings. In many instances, the family members also don’t know the total value of the estate until the process of probate is done. Here at Berley Chartered Accountants, we charge on a time-basis when we handle probate.

Berley’s probate service

Berley is London’s probate accountants, licensed to carry out non-contentious probate in England and Wales. We work on a clear fee structure agreed in advance; in other words, you know exactly what you are paying.

For more advice on how Berley London Chartered Accountants can help you with probate services, call us today on 020 7636 9094 or fill in our Online Contact Form.

If you’d like more information pertaining to probate, you can check out:

This post is intended to provide information of general interest about current business/ accounting issues. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances.