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Kingston Smith granted license to undertake probate work

Industry hopes competition and innovation will lead to better value for consumers

1 October 2014

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Kingston Smith has become the first accountancy firm to be licenced as an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) to carry out probate work.

This comes just a month after the ICAEW became the first non-legal body to be able to regulate a reserved legal service (probate) and a licensing authority for ABSs.

The move is aimed at diversifying the legal marketplace and offering consumers a greater level of choice and more competitive prices.

Vernon Soare, ICAEW executive director, commented: "ICAEW has become a regulator and licensing authority for probate and ABS because this will open up the marketplace for the consumer, who might want their accountant to handle legal services too. We also knew that members were keen to offer these services and having more providers should make the market more competitive."

In order to qualify through the ICAEW, members of accountancy firms will have to attend an ABS course and pass an assessment.

Sir Michael Snyder, senior partner of Kingston Smith, said: "We are delighted to be the first ICAEW accountancy firm to be licensed to offer a truly holistic suite of probate services to our clients. Taking away the need for outside parties to be involved in providing individuals with this sensitive, personalised service is something we know our clients will greatly value.

"Whilst we have long been active in providing trust and estate services, this ICAEW accreditation enables us to provide a more streamlined service to clients as we can see the full picture, enabling us to deliver better value."

Chris Kenny, chief executive of the Legal Services Board echoed these comments and welcomed the ICAEW as a regulator in the industry.

"This is a welcome development and is a very important step on the road to more consumer choice, innovation and competition in the provision of legal services. I hope that this is the first of many probate licences issued as ICAEW commences its role as a regulator in the legal services sector."

The ICAEW has estimated that around 250 accountancy firms will apply for a license to undertake probate work.

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Legal services