A Letter From The Founder

Apr 7, 2020 | Article, Articles, Educate The Executor, The Material | 0 comments

Please forgive any awkwardness you feel when reading this letter. At heart, I am a very private person, so, not one for sharing my life on Facebook, or anywhere really. This letter has a goal; that is to connect me on a personal level with the reader, so it was incredibly difficult for me to write. First and foremost, I want JT AccountsS® Educates The Executor™ to be an interactive and personal platform where the participants know they are interacting with and receiving advice from a person.

Although I did not know it at the time, the seed for Educate The Executors™ was planted back in 2008 when sadly following his battle with cancer, mental illness and finally pneumonia, my dad lost his fight and died.

John William Bell 1939-2008, my dad, throughout my lifetime, but especially during his final years showed me just how unequipped many of us are to deal with the challenges of long term illness, long term care and most definitely death. What dad did show my family and me, while learning with him, exactly what not to repeat when my mum then fell ill will cancer the week we buried him. These lessons were a gift, and heeded; my mum is now a cancer survivor!

What I learned is that a lot of people do not want to talk about death. I am sure we can all agree that death is not a pleasant subject, so many simply choose to ignore the inevitable, instead of taking some very simple steps to make this easier on those we leave behind so that we can still choose to ignore it, but with peace of mind.

So when I lost dad, the unenviable task of notifying everyone began. Back then, I was not qualified to do probate work, at the time, it was not even an option for accountants to qualify, so I was just a daughter doing my best to manage. 

One of the notifications was to HMRC, who updated their records to John William Bell Deceased, and then for the proceeding few years continued to write to him asking him to submit a tax return. Obviously, my mum was quite distressed by this, had no idea what to do about it, so continued to ignore the letters until one was accidentally discovered by me.

Once I spoke to HMRC, the matter became clear. Once you die, you may still be required to submit a tax return, simple. This would actually be a job for your Executor or Administrator, but only if you are aware of your duties; which I was not.

On finally grasping what I needed to do for HMRC to get dads record closed, it got done. However, as you may see, receiving letters, especially for a loved one that has passed, with the words deceased on them, could be quite distressing and was this was likely my first motivation for deciding how I could help rectify a scenario like this.

Only a few years later we suffered another death in the family, this time my brother in law, Glyn, who lost his fight to cancer. My sister, beside herself with grief, found herself was suddenly thrust into the world of probate. As Executor of Glyns estate, my sister was, without a clue about what this meant or where to start. I am sure my sister her own stories to share about this, but needless to say, at a time when you are at your lowest, and when your skillset is more hands-on than paperwork driven, this was an eye-opening time for us all.

Still not qualified to do probate work I found myself helping my sister to gain a grant of probate so she could carry out her role as Executor and finalise her husband’s affairs. Despite there being a Will in place and no inheritance tax to pay, I helped my sister complete the forms needed (the PA1) to apply for probate.

The PA1 (now replaced by the PA1A and PA1P) is the application form a non-professional executor completes to start this process. This document to my knowledge is 20 pages long and asks for information about people and things that even if you are married to somebody, you may not know. I have since seen people caught out by marriage dates, by birthdates, by family history; and the list goes on. If only we knew about this sooner, right, so we had the choice to prepare…

A little over three years ago, the reserved legal service to undertake probate professionally was expanded to include qualified accounting professionals. As I am always interested in learning, and because of the natural synergies this work presented with my current job, I decided I was going to be one of those accountants.

In July 2017, 9 years after losing dad, I obtained my license to provide probate services. I am exceptionally proud to say that I am the first accountant in Enfield to be licensed, and today still only one or four hundred accountants nationally that is.

So what does this mean to you?

I have learnt a lot in my few short years in practice discovering that Executors in the majority have absolutely no idea what is expected of them when it comes to obtaining probate and administering the estate of a deceased person. There is a considerable knowledge gap in this area that I plan to fill.

The intricacies of probate are unending, and although I am qualified and able to charge for my service, everyone can apply for probate themselves if they want to. Whether they want to or not is obviously their choice.

Death, is Certainty, hence my coining of this terminology when it comes to my services on this subject. Unfortunately, what also accompanies dying is the expense. Funerals are one of the most expensive events you will hold these days, the average funeral in the UK being £4,000; more for a burial. Then there are the fees for using a professional to obtain probate on your behalf, with high street banks and solicitors charging anywhere from 3% upwards of the gross estate; this is open to some abuse.

Please do not misunderstand me. Using a qualified professional will simplify matters for both an Executor and an Administrator, there is a mountain of work involved in gaining probate, and the professionals do not just apply for a license. To provide a balanced perspective on this matter, Professionals licensed to offer probate work are highly qualified, knowledgeable individuals. They are required by their regulatory bodies to stay current with legislation and changes that impact this area and this costs money. They are also providing a chargeable service for which they can be held fully accountable and can in the long run actually save you money.  

However, these probate fees can be open to abuse. When I started my accountancy practice, my ethos was to break the stuffy image of an accountant, to be more personable and interactive with my clients and to help. I want to do the same now with my probate work (Certainty Services).

Educate The Executors™ as you can see, has been evolving in my head for many years, and it is my intention to take this initiative face to face after the current crisis has abated. Unfortunately, with COVID-19 comes the sad, sad reality that a higher number of people may lose someone close to them or that they know, so, I have brought the program forward to help.

Educate The Executors™ itself is designed to educate support and inform existing or potential executives and administrators. What you need to know when you appoint Executors in a Will. Understanding the commitment, you are agreeing to as an Executor, or the obligation you are placing on them if you are nominating.

Educate The Executors™ is also there to support the bereaved and anyone that has suffered a loss. Not just from COVID-19, but anyone that has suffered loss. 

We are associated with Suanne Edgington of Holistic Edge, who has extensive personal experience with bereavement and grief, is empathetic and happy to talk and support you mentally and emotionally. 

I want to make Educate The Executors™ informative. I have set up the Facebook group JTAccountS’ Educate The Executors Forum to be a collaborative platform, where no questions are stupid questions and where I can tailor the content to suit what the participants need.

Obviously, I want your questions, as these are so important for me to understand what you are not sure about and to plug the knowledge gaps. 

One of the first things you will see when you join the group is a poll to indicate what you would find useful and to add anything not listed.

You will also see an ‘Ask Your Question’ post, which will remain a regular feature. You can ask your question in the Comments or chose to post a question which will go to moderation and be reposted into the group Anonymously.

The very first question we had in the Forum was: What are the options available to an executor if the deceased’s own bank will not open an executor account because the Executor doesn’t bank there and the Executor’s own bank won’t open an executor account because the deceased didn’t bank there?

Not such a silly question, this happens all the time! This question has been answered in the Forum. 

I am also talking to another industry professionals about their experiences of this to see if we can add any further support in this area, helping to break down the ‘brick walls’ that many face when becoming an Executor or Administrator.

I also want your stories. Please share, as your stories are vitally important. If you can share, as your story may inspire others, help them to understand they are not alone, and help us to navigate how to help others going through a similar period in their lives. These can be posted, which will go to moderation and be reposted into the group Anonymously if requested.

There will be many other regular features, and we are looking to bring in other industry professionals over time to share their experiences and knowledge too.

As the process of being an Executor or an Administrator is such a vast subject, we are going to break it down into smaller topics. What I hope is that the Forum will grow and be utilised as a tool for individuals wanting to manage the probate and estate administration service themselves.

It is important to me that people can access information on what they need to do when someone has died and honour their obligation as an Executor, take on their appointment as an Administrator or make an informed choice when deciding who to appoint in their Will.

This is a personal message from the founder of JT AccountS®, JT AccountS® Educate The Executor™, and JT AccountS’ Educate The Executor Forum, and I look forward to seeing you in the Forum. I hope that you will derive some benefit from the group and that for right now, especially, you will all stay safe and well during the Coronavirus outbreak.

I am here to help, Jacqui Tetley.

About This Artical:

Written from the heart of Jacqui Tetley the founder of JT AccountS®

We will add new articles on a daily basis with new information and helpful advice.

Please get in contact if you have any questions, as all of the JT AccountS® services are still fully operations. Our staff are remotely working from home and can support you within this time.

Other Educate The Executor™ Information:

Practice Number: 21331

Jacqueline Tetley is licensed and regulated by AAT under licence number 5096.

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