Podcast: Probate & Estate Administration

Mark Speed, Personal Tax Adviser Manager and Probate advisor for Ward Williams

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So welcome to BIZ podcast, we have Mark from Ward Williams joining us. So tell us who you are, and what you do for Ward Williams?

“Hello there, my name is Mark Speed. I’m a Personal Tax Manager and Probate Advisor at Ward Williams".

And what do Ward Williams do?

"Ward Williams are a firm of chartered accountants but they also offer a wide variety of other business and personal financial services. We also specialise in other areas that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with a firm of accountants, such as Probate and Estate administration".

So Mark, you are a Probate Advisor – tell us about Probate.

"Probate and estate administration is the financial and legal process which takes place after someone has died. The purpose is to make sure all relevant taxes are collected, money owing to creditors is paid, debts owed to the deceased are collected and the remaining assets from the estate are distributed to the relevant beneficiaries".

Would someone normally use a solicitor to do that work?

"Indeed, many people do use a solicitor but you don’t have to any more. We were actually one of the first accountancy firms to be licensed to carry out probate work, following a major change in the law which previously only allowed solicitors or banks to carry out this work".

So why should someone use Ward Williams?

"As licensed practitioners for probate work and specialists in all aspects of taxation, accounts preparation and estate planning, we are ideally placed to assist with obtaining Probate. We are a firm of Chartered Accountants so are very familiar with financial and business affairs. I personally am a chartered tax advisor so I’m able to keep your tax liability to minimum, whether that’s inheritance tax, income tax or capital gains tax. We can also ensure that the beneficiaries of an Estate have plans to in place to minimise their personal tax burdens on receiving an inheritance".

And what about the costs of your service.

"We are very competitive price-wise. Traditionally, banks and solicitors charge a set % of the value of an Estate to carry out probate work. , which in some cases can be up to 4% of the value of the assets. At Ward Williams our understanding of financial documents, particularly when it comes to calculating inheritance tax, income tax and capital taxes, means that we can carry out the procedure quickly and efficiently. This means we spend less time gathering all the relevant information, therefore keeping costs to a minimum".

What is involved in obtaining probate?

"Typically the process involves finding the will and identifying the next of kin, completing the probate application form, filling in the inheritance tax forms for HMRC including providing valuations of all the deceased’s assets and calculating how much tax there may be to pay. Sending the forms and relevant fees to the Probate Office. Swearing an oath that all the information provided is correct. Finally, administering the estate, so sending copies of the grant of representation to the banks and other asset holders, potentially selling the assets to provide funds to pay debts and taxes and then distributing the assets to the beneficiaries as highlighted in the will".

Is it only the wealthy who need to go through this process?

"Not at all. In fact, most estates will need to obtain probate. If the deceased has any assets in their own name at death, such as a bank account, stocks and shares or property, you will most likely need to obtain a Grant of Probate in order transfer the assets to the Executors and then to the beneficiaries named in the Will, or by following the rules of intestacy if there is no Will".

How long have you been doing this type of work?

"I have spent almost 10 years working in tax, preparing tax returns, undertaking tax planning and for the last couple of years I have also been involved in preparing IHT returns and obtaining Probate".

What advice would you offer to a new client?

"Make sure you have an up-to-date Will in place. This is probably the most important thing that anyone can do. It ensures that you are naming the executors who will ultimately follow the instructions in your Will and pass your estate to the beneficiaries you want to. At Ward Williams, we can prepare your Will and provide IHT planning advice at the same time. There are some really simple steps that can be taken such as making annual gifts, or gifts out of income, which can prove hugely efficient in the long-term".

But Inheritance Tax is only paid when you die, so it’s not that persons concern, right?

"IHT is something that needs to be considered, given that it can be 40% of the Estate that ultimately passes to HMRC rather than to a beneficiary of a Will. The earlier planning can take place, the better".

Where is Ward Williams based?

“We have offices in Weybridge, Ascot, Bracknell and Uxbridge as well as an office in London”.

Office locations

How can people get in touch?

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