Members are sometimes asked to assist with the tax affairs of a deceased client. Some of this work can stray over in to 'reserved services' related to the applying for and receiving probate. Reserved services may only be carried out by a qualified legal adviser or by someone licensed by an approved regulator or licensing authority. Providing these services when not eligible to do so is an offence under the Administration of Justice Act 1985 so members should approach this area of work with caution. There is no definition of probate work other than that set out in the Legal Services Act 2007: 'the preparation of any probate papers on which to found or oppose a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration.' It is therefore not always clear which elements of the probate process are reserved and which are not. ATT and CIOT have not sought authority to license probate services because of the very low demand from members in the past. However, the ICAEW became a licensing authority and approved regulator in 2014 and has recently issued some guidance on where the boundaries lie which may be helpful.

As with all services provided a member should ensure that the work to be undertaken is fully and accurately covered by both the engagement letter and Professional Indemnity Insurance. Please note that if you are providing the service on an unpaid private basis then there is no restriction on the probate services you may offer (subject of course to your knowledge and competence to do so).