Parliament approves ICAEW as probate and ABS regulator

PARLIAMENT has confirmed the ICAEW’s new role as a regulator of probate services and alternative business structures (ABSs) from September.

The ability for member firms to be able to offer wider probate services has long been sought by the ICAEW. In December 2013, it was announced the ICAEW would gain the powers following an agreement with the Legal Services Board. The statutory order formally confirms the institute’s appointment.

Prior to the change, firms would have to obtain an ABS licence, which allows accountants and solicitors operate within the same firm, in order to provide probate services. ABSs, or multi-disciplinary practices, were introduced under the Legal Services Act 2007 in an attempt to open up the legal services market. Price Bailey and the legal division of PwC currently operate under ABS license.

ICAEW executive director Vernon Soare said the Lord Chancellor’s decision to name the institute as the first non-legal body to regulate probate services and license ABSs was “ground-breaking”.

“Consumers looking for probate services will now be able to use appropriately qualified ICAEW Chartered Accountants and ICAEW-licensed ABS as an alternative to traditional providers.”

More than 250 firms have expressed an interest in accreditation, Soare added, with numbers expected to rise following the announcement.

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