finance Taking the pain out of probate

The probate process can be one of the most stressful experiences imaginable, particularly coming at a time when a loved one has been lost

Wills are written in legal language, which can be difficult for those not legally trained to follow and understand. If you are appointed an executor of an estate, the process of obtaining probate and administering the estate can be complex and extremely time consuming. You may feel overwhelmed by the demands of the role, not to mention trying to fulfil this role while grieving for a loved one.

At HWB, we want to help. We know everyone is different and we can help as little or as much as needed. If you feel confident calling all relevant parties to inform them of the death, but just want someone else to complete the accounts and the various forms for HMRC and the probate office, we can do that. If you want to hand over the full reins to someone else to collect in the assets, complete the forms, pay the tax and distribute the estate, we can do that too.

The firm offers a full probate service, bespoke to your specific needs and requirements. The more contentious examples will still need to be referred to a specialist legal team, but HWB can handle the bulk of the work. This can keep costs down for you, while giving you the piece of mind that everything will be taken care of.

Traditionally, probate work was only undertaken by solicitors. HWB was one of the first accountancy practices in the region to obtain a licence from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) to undertake probate work.

The HWB probate team is headed by senior tax manager, Gemma Hedges. Hedges obtained a first degree in law and taxation prior to completing her chartered tax exams and specialist trusts, estates and probate qualifications. She has over 13 years’ experience helping individuals with their tax queries, and her broad tax background enables her to advise on wider tax issues and tax planning options for the estate, as well as assisting with the probate compliance process.

Hedges said: “Suffering the loss of any loved one is hard enough and our sympathetic service is tailored to your needs to give you peace of mind during the administration process.”

“When someone passes away it will be time for the executors of the deceased’s Will to begin administering the estate. The process of obtaining probate can be time-consuming and stressful, but we can help to alleviate the strain on individuals by assisting in many areas.

“Applying for probate can be exceptionally complicated. There is a plethora of forms, various MAY/JUNE 2021 29

Gemma Hedges

confusing reliefs and exemptions, and the available information can be contradictory and unhelpful. If the forms are completed incorrectly, you could open yourself up to enquiry from HMRC, plus accusations from beneficiaries of the Will. Grieving relatives, who of course are not used to the process, can understandably become overwhelmed and anxious.”

At HWB, we are not just flexible in terms of our offering, we are also flexible in terms of our delivery. The pandemic has presented many challenges to this, but we have been able to service our clients throughout, whether by phone calls, video calls, or socially distanced meetings.

But it is not just about what happens after you pass away. Hedges said: “There is a great deal of unfairness in the inheritance tax rules. While this can be rectified to some extent after someone has died, it is much easier and cost effective to ensure the Will leaves the estate in a tax-efficient manner in the first place. As accountants and tax advisers, we can advise on and implement a range of measures to assist with your tax planning, for inheritance tax and other taxes too, to ensure your family does not pay any more tax than necessary.”

Gemma Hedges

HWB is offering The Business Magazine readers an initial one-hour FREE consultation to discuss all aspects of probate.

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