Why you should use an accountant for probate
With the changes to legislation having come into force allowing accountants with the required probate qualifications to practice it, many are left with the question should I use an accountant in place of a solicitor?
The primary and perhaps most convincing point is cost. Solicitors often operate based on the value of the estate and so will charge accordingly, accountants normally, operate on an hourly fee, the result of which is often a lower fee. Where solicitors use an hourly rate, when compared to the government guide rates for solicitors from 2010 our rates are less than half the guideline rate quoted. In addition, accountants play a far larger part in probate than people imagine where there is an accountant involved prior to the death. This is due to solicitors needing to consult with the accountant in order to get the financial information and workings they will need. By going to your accountant rather than a solicitor you would essentially be cutting out the middle man and the attached fees, you would also avoid duplicate fees where both the accountant and the solicitor charge for the same estate.
The administration of an estate is primarily financial and therefore numerical, accountants are specifically schooled within the financial sector in dealing with such workings whereas solicitors training is clearly focused on the law. For clients already engaged with their accountant for other reasons, instead of instructing a solicitor who would need to learn about the individual and their financial background, they would have the comfort of remaining with the accountant. The other benefit is that this often speeds up the process. This particularly applies to tax returns, as when an individual dies then a tax return commonly has to be filed for the tax year, this ordinarily falls to the accountant. Should a solicitor be employed, who is less used to preparing tax returns this can result in higher fees. The solicitor may also have to engage with the accountant in order to gain the numbers for the aforementioned tax return.