Reducing the pain of probate

Executors dealing with the estate of a loved one have an extremely difficult time. When emotions are already running high, they must focus their minds on the fine details required for completing the necessary forms throughout the probate process, keeping within strict time frames and making sure no mistakes are made. Support online from HMRC is very poor and their guidance to “personal applicants” often assumes a level of existing knowledge on Inheritance Tax (IHT) which is far too high.

Fewer than 25,000 estates in the UK are liable for IHT annually, meaning that less than 5% of all deaths are subject to the tax. However, despite this low figure, executors of an estate must fill in IHT forms for 50% of all deaths. And it isn’t an easy task. HMRC themselves acknowledge that the amount of work required for an estate with a “zero IHT charge” is disproportionate and they are looking at ways to get around this burdensome challenge for, often, vulnerable family members.

A recent case we dealt with at Garbutt + Elliott was in respect of a moderate size estate (worth just over £500k) but the IHT tax return still consisted of over 50 pages and the Family Executor was concerned about getting in a muddle, especially when it came to the declaration of lifetime gifts and claiming the “Residential Nil Rate Band” (RNRB). With our support we were able to guide them on the more complicated IHT aspects whilst leaving the Executor to get on with the more practical aspects of the estate administration (advising utility companies, reclaiming nursing home fees etc). This combined approach worked well in meeting the Executor’s tax obligations but without running up excessive costs for administrative matters.

Research evidenced in a report carried out by the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), in January 2018, indicated that 38% of respondents (who did not use an adviser) spent over 50 hours administering an estate, including 12% who spent over 100 hours. Respondents in the survey highlighted that understanding and completing the necessary IHT forms was the most time-consuming part of this process, adding to what is already a difficult and distressful period of their lives.

For these reasons, it is often in someone’s best interest to bring in an external advisor who can carry out all the necessary work, making sure the process is carried out correctly and as swiftly as possible.

When dealing with the finances and assets of your estate, the best people to turn to are, very often, your accountants. They will fully understand your lifetime financial situation and have already ensured all measures have been taken to protect your wealth. Upon your passing they are best placed to save your family time, money and stress, during this emotional period. The reality is that, throughout the probate process, solicitors & other probate providers, would turn to your accountants to gather financial information anyway. It clearly makes sense to use your accountant provided they are licensed to undertake this type of regulated legal work.

Garbutt + Elliott are licensed to provide probate services and can assist with all areas of an uncontested estate including acting as executors to your will. We can take care of all the paperwork including IHT calculations, agreeing tax liabilities with HMRC and completing all final tax returns.

Our experts are ready to support your family and to remove as much stress as possible and we are best placed to ensure that your loved ones are protected from unnecessary financial losses. It makes not only financial sense, but emotional sense too.

We welcome you to call us with any queries, which we can discuss with you sensitively and pragmatically. Contact us at hello@garbutt-elliott or call us on 01904 464100