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Probate & Estate Administration

What is probate?

Probate is the financial and legal process of dealing with a deceased’s estate.

It is a reserved legal activity, which until recently could only be carried out by banks or solicitors.

Croucher Needham are accredited with ICAEW to provide non-contentious probate and estate administration services after ICAEW became the first approved probate regulator and licensing authority outside the legal profession in 2014. 

Can I carry out the probate process yourself?

Yes, of course, you can.  It is especially worth considering this if the estate is of low value.

However, probate can be a very detailed procedure and many people choose to look for professional help to deal with the accounting and tax side of probate. They sometimes also want help with practical aspects of identifying, selling and distributing assets and identifying and settling liabilities.  Some executors, those who are legally responsible for dealing with the will of a deceased, like to rely on Croucher Needham to administer all of the estates, relieving themselves of the stress of doing so themselves at a time that can be very emotional also.

What are the advantages of choosing Croucher Needham to help you with probate?

In many of our probate cases we already have a strong knowledge of the deceased’s financial affairs but even for those that we don’t the combination of accounting, tax, law and administration skills within the Croucher Needham team means we are often best placed to carry out this kind of work.  We also have strong links with other professional service providers to support those service areas we cannot provide, for example conveyancing solicitors where there is a property to sell or transfer.

It is not unusual for there to be a cost-saving associated with using Croucher Needham in comparison to other probate service providers.  Traditionally banks and solicitors have charged a fee based on the percentage value of the deceased’s estate while we at Croucher Needham agree to a fixed fee with the executors based on the complexity (based on the number and types of assets, not the value of them) and the level of involvement we are requested to have in the administration (see our pricing transparency).

 

What services does Croucher Needham offer?

In line with many of our other services we offer two main levels of probate and estate administration services, being:

  • Standard service: this includes the preparation and submission of IHT forms and the application for a grant of probate;

  • Fully inclusive service: this includes us corresponding with all asset holders to determine the estate value, dealing with HMRC and the grant of probate, liaising with solicitors as necessary, collating the estate and making the necessary distributions in accordance with the Will.  We will also produce the estate accounts and deal with the tax position of the estate and any of the deceased.

As ever, we remain fully flexible with our service offerings and it is not uncommon for us to provide a hybrid solution for our clients that suits their needs.

Our pricing transparency

Croucher Needham pride itself on providing fixed fees based on known parameters at the outset of an assignment and this is no different for our probate and state administration services.

As eluded to above, our fees are set dependent on the services required and the number and complexity of the estate’s assets and liabilities.  

Typically a “Standard” service will attract a fee of between £2,500 plus VAT and £4,000 plus VAT while our “Fully inclusive” service will attract a fee of between £4,000 plus VAT and £6,000 plus VAT.

In addition to our fees, there will always be a disbursement for probate application fees (£273) and fees for additional copies of the grant (£1.50 per copy).  These are suffered by Croucher Needham and disbursed to the executors along with our fee invoice.

The earliest our fees are invoiced is at the point that the grant of probate is received, however, it is usual practice for them to be invoiced when assets have been collated and initial distributions to beneficiaries have been made.  

How long does probate take?

There are many different factors that impact the length of time it takes to receive probate and administer the deceased’s estate, not least those that are out of our control being the time it takes asset holders to respond, HMRC’s processing of the IHT forms and calculations and the processing of the grant of probate by the Probate office.  Typically a probate case will last at least 6 months although we have been known to complete it within 4 months.  It is not unusual for an estate to take 12 months to complete.

We endeavour to complete our probate cases as quickly as possible and update our clients at least every two weeks during the process.

 

Our regulatory details

Croucher Needham (Essex) LLP is licensed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales to carry out the reserved legal activity of non-contentious probate in England and Wales.

 

Our complaints procedures

We pride ourselves on our customer service levels for all services and none more so with our probate and estate administration services given the sensitive circumstances we are usually dealing with.  If for any reason you have cause for complaint you can follow our standard complaints procedures outlined in our standard terms of business.

If we do not deal with any complaint satisfactorily then you may take the matter up with our professional body the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Legal Ombudsman. The contact details for the Legal Ombudsman are: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ | E-mail: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk | Telephone: 0300 555 0333. 

In the unlikely event that we cannot meet our liabilities to a client, the client may be able to seek a grant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales compensation scheme. Further information about the scheme and the circumstances in which grants may be made is available on the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales website: https://www.icaew.com/probate.

 

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