There are many benefits to outsourcing aspects of your probate work; from access to skilled resources, increasing your efficiency by freeing up fee earners time to focus on core areas of their work, and the significant cost advantages from lower charge out rates. However, many solicitors are wary of outsourcing due to the strict regulations within the SRA.
So how can firms benefit from outsourcing? The SRA note that the outsourcing provisions in the SRA code do not apply where you use a specialist service to assist in the provision of legal services for clients by using tax experts or accountancy services. In every probate file, there are significant elements in which outsourcing can benefit solicitors.
Asset List and Inheritance tax returns
Once a file has been opened (with assets and liabilities identified and date of death confirmations obtained) it’s the time to prepare the asset list for the initial valuation of the estate (as at the date of death). This document is the foundation of the case and used to prepare the relevant IHT forms and in obtaining the Grant of Representation.
When confirmations of the date of death balances have been received, outsourcing the preparation of the asset list and inheritance tax returns can again provide real benefits for firms of solicitors. Not only from the outsourcing benefits listed previously but by providing an external review of all documents there is added security that no assets or liabilities are excluded from these documents.
Despite there being a legal obligation to prepare estate accounts, there are no statutory requirements for the format or the degree of detail they should contain. Estate accounts are primarily prepared to show the beneficiaries what has happened to the deceased estate.
Therefore, the accounts should be clear and show exactly how the estate has evolved through the administration.
If prepared in a clear manner, estate accounts identify and enable the users to readily prepare any capital gains and income tax computations and will also form the basis of the beneficiaries’ income tax certificates.
Preparing a set of estate accounts can easily take several hours even in straightforward cases.
We know that this time demand creates a clear opportunity for firms of solicitors. By outsourcing this process to specialist Chartered Accountancy firms, you can efficiently produce clear sets of estate accounts, be they for an interim or final distribution, and save hours of fee earners time in every case.
Neil Wilson is the Associate Director of Bennett Brooks. They work with a range of PI firms, from sole traders to multimillion pound turnover companies and with offices nationwide. Their industry experience means we provide specific accounting and compliance guidance on virtually all scenarios. Visit Bennettbrooks.co.uk today to arrange a free initial meeting on any of the issues raised.
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