Why are accountants best to help with probate proceedings?

Probate proceedings, which involves managing the estate of someone that has passed away, often come hand-in-hand with complex financial matters.

Accountants who specialise in probate are now able to assist you with the whole probate and estate administration process.

Your accountant can safely guide you through the various aspects of probate, providing care, support and practical advice throughout the process. Here’s why accountants are best to help with probate proceedings.

How can accountants help with probate proceedings?

Probate is the legal process of administering someone’s estate after death.

While probate involves validating the deceased’s will and ensuring their wishes are adhered to, it also involves managing all the assets, debts and other financial affairs they left behind.

Accountants involved in probate and estate administration undertake various critical tasks, including:

  • Gathering financial information: Your accountant can contact third parties to obtain more detailed information about the deceased person’s assets and liabilities.
  • Inheritance tax calculations: Accountants can prepare the inheritance tax forms, accurately calculate the tax payable on the estate, and file those forms on your behalf.
  • Grant of Probate: This is a crucial legal document that grants the authority for executors to administer the deceased’s estate. Your accountant can help you apply for and obtain a Grant of Probate so you can deal with the assets as soon as possible.

Once you’ve received a Grant of Probate, your accountant can take on further responsibilities, including:

  • Estate administration: This involves collecting assets, settling liabilities, and distributing legacies according to the terms of the will.
  • Estate accounts: Your accountant can prepare comprehensive estate accounts to provide a clear overview of all financial transactions.
  • Income disclosure: A probate specialist can disclose estate income to HMRC, ensuring compliance with tax regulations.
  • Estate distribution: An accountant can ensure that your loved one’s estate is distributed to beneficiaries according to their wishes.

Delving into the financial dimensions of probate

Accountants are adept at working with the financial complexities of probate, so rest assured they’ll handle your loved one’s financial affairs with accuracy and discretion.

If they have been dealing with the deceased’s affairs during their lifetime then they will have knowledge of the family background and understand the deceased’s financial affairs, possibly even better than the Executors themselves.

If you tell your accountant during your lifetime that you wish them to assist with the probate process, then they will take steps to collect a little bit of extra information so as to make life easier for those you leave behind.

Addressing liabilities and debts

Before you can distribute the assets or funds, you’ll need to settle any unpaid debts and liabilities. This can include filing and paying inheritance tax as well as any other loans or taxes that are still outstanding.

If the estate is worth £325,000 or more, you may need to pay inheritance tax at 40% on the part of the estate that’s above this threshold. However, the amount of inheritance tax can depend on a wide range of factors including who receives the assets. For example, there is usually no inheritance tax due when leaving an estate to a spouse or civil partner.

Accountants can smooth out this process while reducing tax liabilities where possible.

Sometimes, liabilities aren’t glaringly obvious. It can be easy to miss outstanding utility bills, subscriptions, memberships or even personal loans if you don’t know what to look for.

Specialist probate accountants will study your loved one’s finances to identify and settle any unpaid debts so you can continue with proceedings.

Estate distribution

Once all debts are cleared, you can start distributing the estate.

Your accountant can help ensure that any specific bequests are given to the right beneficiaries. If an asset comes with added tax implications for its recipient, a specialist can also offer expert advice on how to distribute it in a tax-efficient manner.

Crucially, a probate accountant will make sure that each beneficiary receives their rightful and fair share.

The unique strengths of probate accountants

Probate involves a combination of financial and legal expertise, which is why accountants are excellent at guiding you through processes. They can ensure compliance with tax law and can even help minimise inheritance tax liabilities.

  • Financial expertise: During probate, every asset or liability needs accounting for. This is second nature to accountants.
  • Tax navigation: Probate and taxes are intrinsically linked. The tax landscape during probate can be difficult to navigate, from inheritance tax and capital gains tax implications to the tax treatment of will trusts. Accountants, well-versed in tax laws and obligations, can guide you through this maze, ensuring full compliance and minimising burdens.

Pearson May: your trusted probate partner

Whilst dealing with probate is a restricted service which previously could only be performed by solicitors and banks, licenced accountancy firms now use their financial expertise to ensure the whole process is seamless.

At Pearson May, we’ll guide you through probate proceedings with accuracy, diligence and compassion. We’ll work with you to do as much or as little as you wish.

With over 180 years of experience under our belt, we’ve successfully supported clients through the probate journey, ensuring they find the most effective resolution without undue stress or delay.

Contact us today to set up a free 30-minute consultation with an expert.

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