Why you should consider using an accountant for probate

6 Minutes

If you are looking for probate services, you may be surprised that a local accountancy firm appears as a potential provider in your research. WoodWhite Accountants are one of the very few accountancy practices in the UK to have been granted a licence to provide probate services, by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

Our probate services are led by our Head of Legal Services, Emma Newnham. We introduced probate services as we believe our position as a trusted advisor can help make the process less transactional and far more supportive, compared to using a solicitor who you may not have met before or worked with closely. Emma has a small team which means that our clients will always be speaking to a familiar person throughout the process.

Why you should consider using an accountant for probate

It is not common for an accountancy practice to hold a licence to provide probate services but for business owners and their families experiencing a bereavement, it can be beneficial in several ways.

1. Friendly support at a difficult time.

First and foremost, we make a difficult and emotional time easier for the surviving spouse and/or dependants. We already know a lot about the estate if we’re the accountant. If not, we’ll know the right questions to ask and where to go for the information. We will go at your pace, keeping everything manageable and not overwhelming. We’re a small team so you will know exactly who you are dealing with throughout the whole process.

2. We can do as much or as little as you need.

Probate does require a lot of form filling. We can assist with as many, or as few, functions of the executor role as you wish. Some clients simply ask us to be a helping hand and to oversee what they are doing. Others prefer that we take the lead on everything. It depends entirely on the situation and the people involved. Whichever role we undertake, we do so with the utmost sensitivity and discretion.

3. Using an accountant for probate is cost-effective.

A common concern of the beneficiaries is the unknown cost of probate. The first thing to understand is that the cost of probate services will be paid for out of the estate, and this invoice won’t be received until the grant of probate has been issued. There should not be any out-of-pocket expenses for the executor. As with all services we provide at WoodWhite Accountants, we are clear and transparent about our pricing.

Our fees are based on effort levels rather than a randomly assigned percentage of the estate.

We will provide a free, no-obligation quote so you can make an informed decision.

4. Probate has a lot of tax implications.

Probate is the legal authority to deal with someone's estate (their property, money and possessions), to sell their assets, and to pay off their liabilities. Many assume that a Will provides legal authority, which it doesn't. There is always a tax angle to the estate, whether the deceased owned a business or not. If it is identified that the deceased needs to have a tax return completed for the year of death, then an accountant will be needed.

In our team, Emma Newnham has chartered tax qualifications as well as the licence for probate services. This means we will be considering the tax implications throughout the process, as well as creditors who will need paying from the estate. If there is a business to close and assets to sell, a solicitor would need to work with an accountant to do so. Therefore, using an accountant for probate from the start can reduce the number of advisors involved.

5. Inheritance tax isn’t an afterthought.

People want to understand the tax liabilities of the estate and make it as tax-efficient as possible. We will consider the tax implications of beneficiaries as part of the process so that they aren’t left with a significant tax burden. A deed of variation for example allows a beneficiary to make changes to their entitlement from a Will after the person has died, which can help with tax rates. Donating to charity can also reduce the amount paid in Inheritance Tax.

At WoodWhite Accountants we can help anyone applying for probate – you are not restricted to using a solicitor. Even if we are not your accountant, we can help with probate. We can also help with writing simple Wills too.

Contact us today on 0118 997 7100 or email enquiries@woodwhiteaccountants.co.uk to discuss our probate or Will writing services further.