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):
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
Vision 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: Vision 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: Vision 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, Vision 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:
How the fees are determined
Estimated hours to:
Charge out rates:
Disbursements and other costs:
Indication of fees
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:
Contact details for the Legal Ombudsman
T: 0300 555 0333
Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ
ICAEW Probate Compensation Scheme
Vision 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:
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, Vision 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.