Could you be offering probate?

Why accountants are well positioned for providing the service

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Many accountants offer estate administration services but will pass their clients to a solicitor for probate services. This is a service often overlooked by many accountants and a potential follow-on service that hasn’t been considered.

With the ability to conduct non-contentious probate, it enables accountants to provide a seamless service to their clients, which in most cases can be faster and cheaper than that of banks and lawyers.

A recent study from Direct Line identified that only 24% of Brits would consider contesting a will of a loved one. This highlights a significant market for non-contentious probate and whether they are the bereaved family accountant or tax adviser they could be providing further service in the form of probate.

Having built a relationship with their clients already, trust for that individual and practice has been established. Many clients are reassured that they are in good hands and prefer to continue this difficult and stressful bereavement journey with familiarity. As outlined within Exizent’s recent Bereavement Index Report, 94% of people found at least part of the bereavement process stressful and 39% of law firms found that within half of their bereavement cases, the clients needed emotional support from someone within their firm.

Why are accountants so well positioned for conducting probate?

There are several practical and financial benefits to the client in using a tax adviser or accountant for probate services.

First and foremost, by already having a good understanding of the deceased’s assets and tax liabilities will enable the process to be dealt with as quickly as possible with limited involvement of additional people. Our research indicated 37% of accounts are not known at the start of the probate process and 60% of law firms said less than half of their clients have all their affairs in order.

By providing a full life service, accountants or tax advisers are reducing the time spent on locating accounts and can ensure their clients have their affairs in order.

Additionally, accountants or tax advisers are aware and comfortable with the tasks surrounding a grant of probate with many of the required outputs being second nature to their line of work, for example accounts, assets, liabilities and tax calculations.

Finally, providing probate services also lends its hand to the additional opportunity to undertake inheritance tax planning for the future.

Probate work can provide firms with an excellent business opportunity to provide a whole life service to their existing clients and attract new ones.

Accountants are the logical choice for many clients

While more than a third of us will be involved in the administration of someone’s estate at some point in our lives, overall knowledge of the process is still low.

From Exizent's recent findings within the Bereavement Index, we asked 1,200 people a series of true or false questions about probate and the responsibilities of an executor - and none got them all right. This lack of awareness around what the bereavement process entails could well be one of the main reasons why so many people become stressed when dealing with the administrative side of loss.