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Increased Competition To See Probate Cost Fall By 33%

Recent changes to the legal profession have meant that certain activities in the industry are currently being reviewed for deregulation, the Solicitors Journal notes – something we are very interested in keeping up-to-date with. Probate has since become the latest activity to be deregulated; according to a statutory instrument issued in parliament this August, chartered accountants are now allowed to undertake probate if they have passed the required exams, are properly licensed and it is not a contentious case.

Accountancy firm Reeves is one firm due to offer probate services to its clients, with a number of accountants having undertaken the above mentioned exams. Once the approvals have been received, the firm is looking to become licensed with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) in order to provide probate services as soon as is legally possible.

This change in law is due to make the competition for non-contentious probate cases much more intense, with solicitors typically charging 1.5% of the value of the assets left in a will – on top of an hourly rate – as their fee. Clive Stevens, the executive chairman of Reeves, said these changes could be "potentially very significant for consumers."

He also added that non-contentious probate cases are generally "straightforward, and something accountants will be comfortable with managing" as it is "largely an administrative process."

Stevens went on to add that what with the changing law surrounding probate, he expects other reserved legal activities to be deregulated as well, possibly including notary services to other professions.

With a minimum of 250 accountants having already taken these licensing exams, what do you think of this latest move? Do you think the future of the industry lies in deregulation?