We understand that the application and the process of probate is an emotional and difficult time for individuals and family members who have lost a loved one; we recognise this and prioritise dealing with the individuals concerned in a sensitive manner.
Sowerbutts & Co Limited is authorised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales to carry out the reserved legal service of non-contentious probate in England and Wales.
The area of probate and estate administration complements our other existing services that we already offer as a firm of Chartered Accountants to our Clients. We can help to ease the burden particularly when the deceased was a Client of ours, as we will have much of the financial and tax information to hand and are likely to know the next of kin. This can help to simplify the process of probate considerably and keep the costs reasonable and competitive. These services include:
- Personal and business tax planning, including inheritance tax;
- Personal accounting;
- Trusts and estate planning;
- Trusts and Executorships;
- Financial planning and wealth management;
- Retirement strategies.
Essentially probate and estate administration is the financial and legal process which happens after someone has died. The objective is to ensure that all the relevant taxes are collected and the remaining assets from the estate are distributed appropriately to the relevant beneficiaries.
We can provide help in the following ways:
- Obtaining a Grant of Probate;
- Identifying the assets and liabilities of the Estate;
- Valuing the assets of the Estate;
- Completing the forms PA1 and IHT forms;
- Estate accounts preparation;
- Income tax returns.
Details of our probate accreditation can be viewed at icaew.com/probate under reference number C008964531
As an authorised probate firm, we are required to carry out an annual diversity survey. The results of this can be viewed via the About us page.
Fees in relation to undertaking probates services typically are quoted and charged for on a fixed fee basis. Fees in relation to dealing with a deceased estate tend to vary according to the complexity of an individual’s affairs and the nature of the assets and liabilities.
Fees charged therefore may vary in accordance with any one or more of the following circumstances:
- Whether there is a surviving spouse or civil partner
- If there is a will and its whereabouts are known
- If there are any executors to the will, and if so, how many are there
- If the deceased granted a power of attorney to anyone
- If anyone was financially supported by the deceased at the time of their death
- How many beneficiaries there are
- The type and number of any bank or building society accounts
- Whether there are any private pension arrangements
- Whether there are any securities such as gifts, bonds or unit trusts
- If there are any assets held offshore
- The value of any property and its occupation
- Whether the estate is taxable
- The value of any gifts given within seven years before the death of the deceased
If separate probate will be required to administer assets held overseas in a foreign jurisdiction
For straight forward estates (e.g. assets include a main residence, bank accounts, small portfolio of listed shares only, there is a will and all executors are acting) our fees for completion of the inheritance tax forms and grant of probate (form PA1P) are:
Completion of the IHT205 and PA1P £1,500 + VAT
Completion of the IHT400 and supplementary schedules and PA1P £2,500 + VAT
Our fees are based on an hourly charge out rate of £100/hour.
Where there are complexities regarding the inheritance tax reliefs available (e.g. business property relief, residence nil rate band, transferable nil rate bands, gifts in the last 7 years before death) we will charge for our time advising on these matters in addition to the fees for completion of the inheritance tax and probate forms.
The speed of turnaround of the inheritance tax forms is largely dictated by the availability of information and the format in which this is provided to us. In straight forward cases, where information is provided promptly, in excel format, as per our questionnaire, the forms can be completed in 2-3 months following receipt of the signed engagement letter.
The PA1P cannot be submitted for at least 20 days following submission of the inheritance tax forms.
Provided these are submitted promptly, the whole process can be completed in 5-6 months.
As we are authorised for the reserved legal activity of non-contentious probate, in the unlikely event that we cannot meet our liabilities to you, you may be able to seek a grant from ICAEW’s Probate Compensation Scheme. Generally, applications for a grant must be made to ICAEW within 12 months of the time you become aware, or reasonably ought to have been aware of the loss. Further information about the scheme and the circumstances in which grants may be made is available on ICAEW’s website:
Professional Indemnity Insurance
In accordance with the disclosure requirements of the Provision of Services Regulations 2009, details of our professional indemnity insurer and the territorial coverage are below:
Professional indemnity insurance is held with QBE UK Limited of 30 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 3BD. The territorial coverage is worldwide excluding professional business carried out from an office in the United States of America or Canada and excludes any action for a claim bought in any court in the United States of America or Canada.
Complaints and Redress
If you would like to talk to us about how we can improve our service to you, or if you are unhappy with the service you are receiving, please let us know by contacting Liesl Sowerbutts. We will consider carefully any complaint that you may make about our probate services as soon as we receive it and will do all we can to resolve the issue. We will acknowledge your complaint within five business days of its receipt and endeavour to deal with it within 8 weeks. Any complaint should be submitted to us by letter.
If we do not deal with it within this timescale or you are unhappy with our response you may of course take the matter up with our professional body the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Legal Ombudsman. Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman should be made within six years of the act or omission or within three years of you becoming aware of the issue, and in either case within six months of our written response to your complaint to us. The contact details for the Legal Ombudsman are:
Letter: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
Telephone: 0300 555 0333