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You have your ICAEW licence authorising you to provide probate services, but what do you do when things take a contentious turn?

ICAEW guidance on probate services came into force last month to provide a clear framework in which to operate. The guidance includes a warning that members acting outside of the framework will face ICAEW disciplinary action.

When providing estate administration services (whether it be as executor or acting for the executor) and undertaking probate related activities which are managed as a process and a fee is involved, the practitioner must be licensed for the reserved service.

The ICAEW confirms that accountancy practices without a licence cannot

  • handle the whole probate process
  • be pro-active in the process (all activities need to be managed by the executor)
  • submit the PA1 (although they can assist with the completion, provided that the executor is in complete control of it)
  • sign or submit the IHT400 or IHT205, unless they have express authority from the executor who must have seen it prior to submission (they can fill it in and calculate the numbers)
  • assemble the documentation for submission
  • draft the oath
  • swear the oath (unless as an unpaid executor).

In comparison, an accountancy practice with a licence or authorisation can carry out all of these activities mostly without restriction. One major limitation however is that they cannot carry out contentious probate matters.

When probate becomes contentious it is important to seek advice from an ACTAPS registered specialist who is experienced in dealing with the complex area of contentious trust and probate. Not seeking professional advice could lead practitioners open to professional negligence claims.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.