Probate

Ward Williams are licensed to provide probate and estate administration services.

What does this mean 

We can save you or your family a lot of time and stress in the event of losing a loved one. There are certain protocols which need to be carried out upon a person’s death. Probate and estate administration is just one of these, but also the most complex, as the executors are required to file legal, financial and taxation information about the deceased’s estate.

However, we can ease this 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 simplify and shorten the process and therefore help to keep the costs to a minimum.

Watch our video on why you should use an accountant for probate?

What’s involved in the probate and estate administration process?

The process can be lengthy and complicated and will require the deceased’s personal representatives carrying out the following steps:

  • Locating the current will of the deceased
  • Applying for the grant of representation
  • Administering the estate, including liquidating the assets to pay debts and taxes and in preparation for passing to the beneficiaries of the estate
  • Preparing estate accounts
  • Distributing the assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the will, or the intestacy law if there is no valid will.

To help you understand the whole process we have put together a > Guide to Probate

The probate and estate administration service complements our other services which may be of benefit from time to time, these include:

  • Personal and business tax planning, including inheritance tax
  • Trusts and estate planning
  • Executorships
  • Financial planning and wealth management
  • Retirement planning        

Listen to our podcast on Probate and Estate Administration                                  

*Licensed 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.

Details of our probate accreditation can be viewed at www.icaew.com/probate under reference number C001034236.

Case Studies

Clients of Ward Williams talk to the ICAEW about their experience of using their accountant for help with probate.

Clare Francis’s first port of call for probate support was her parents’ accountant.

When Clare Francis’s mother died in 2017, she turned to chartered accountants Ward Williams to help her with the probate. The firm had dealt with her parents’ personal accounting and tax work for many decades, and she knew the people involved as she had dealt with them directly since her father had died suddenly seven years before.

That earlier death had left Francis suddenly responsible for winding up her father’s estate and having to take over the three family companies he had left behind – all while managing her own business, helping her mother and dealing with her husband’s terminal illness. “Dealing with probate myself wasn’t really an option,” she says.

Back in 2010 she had used her parents’ solicitors to do the probate. What made her chose Ward Williams the second time around? “I was aware that the firm offered probate services from their regular updates,” she says. “I also knew from that earlier experience that the solicitors had needed to go back to Ward Williams to ask many questions about valuations, tax, filing in the firms, and so on. It seemed more sensible to use the people who knew all the aspects of my mother’s portfolio and tax affairs and who would be dealing directly with HMRC rather than having to reinvent the wheel.”

She had also struck up a good working rapport with her Ward Williams contacts – something that she had felt was missing from that earlier probate experience. “Ward Williams was much more sympathetic to my circumstances,” she says. “There was much more opportunity for me to ask for help when needed, and there was far less jargon in the information that they sent me. When taking on my father’s probate, the solicitor didn’t explain that there were a number of things we could have done ourselves; in contrast, Ward Williams were clear from the start about the different options available to us and the associated costs of these options.”

This transparency from her accountancy advisers extended through the entire probate process, which Francis describes as clear, honest and straightforward. Her experience and good working relationship with her contact will result in Ward Williams dealing with the trust arising from Francis’s mother’s will. “The relationship in dealing with my parents’ tax has come to an end but the fact we are going to ask them to handle the trust speaks volumes about how we feel they dealt with the probate,” she says. “Personal relationships count for a lot in these circumstances and our relationship with Ward Williams is excellent.”

Chartered accountants Ward Williams offered the right combination of empathy and expertise to deal with probate for Sam Crossby’s mother’s estate

HR professional Sam Crossby was already familiar with what probate entailed when her mother died in 2017, having previously taken on the probate for her father’s estate when he had passed away some years earlier. That earlier experience led to her and her brother deciding to get professional help second time around. “Probate can be a complex process and it’s difficult to go through that when you’ve just been bereaved,” she says. “Not only is there plenty to do but it all needs to be done properly.”

She had expected to have to ask a firm of solicitors to deal with probate. But when she informed Ward Williams, her parents’ personal financial advisers, of her mother’s death, she was pleasantly surprised to find that the firm could take on the probate. “Ward Williams were financial advisers to both parents and after my father died they continued to look after my mother’s financial affairs,” she says. “Because of that good understanding we felt they would be best placed to provide the expertise needed to see probate through and would handle everything in-house. The long-term relationship meant that we already had a high level of trust in them.”

While Crossby did not ask anyone else about taking on the probate, she was approached by another party: their mother’s bank. However, she says their advance hit the wrong key. “Although the people at the bank did show empathy, their approach came across as more commercial than an offer of personal assistance,” she says. “Ward Williams, on the other hand, simply told us that they could provide the service, explaining what they could do if we wanted them to. Their approach was far more human, and much more appropriate to the circumstances.”

That human touch and accessibility characterised the whole process. “We felt we were always able to ask any questions that we had or pop in for a meeting. We felt well looked after all the way through and it was very comforting to know that we had a professional firm to take the anxiety out of the process for us.

“Probate can be a very detailed procedure, as I knew from personal experience, but Ward Williams made the whole thing less daunting. They were very reassuring and clear about everything, keeping us informed and letting us know we could ask for advice whenever we wanted.”

For further information on Ward Williams Probate Service and/or advice on dealing with an estate please use the contact Malcolm McKinnell on probateservices@wardwilliams.co.uk

Specialists

Malcolm McKinnell
Co-Founder and Partner
malcolm.mckinnell@wardwilliams.co.uk