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  • What does the probate process involve?

    The probate process involves:

    Checking if there is a will – this will identify who will oversee the distribution of the estate. If there is no will the next of kin can apply.

    Applying for grant of representation –  this gives the legal right to access and manage the deceased’s assets.

    Pay any inheritance tax due on the estate – establishing the value of the deceased’s estate to complete and submitting an inheritance tax return to HMRC, and pay the tax that is due.

    Collect the estates assets – from banks, building societies and the sale of assets

    Pay any debts – and finalise income tax affairs and pensions

    Distribute the estate – transfer and property, money or possessions to those entitled to those entitled to it (beneficiaries).

    Get in touch with our personal tax team for help and guidance with the probate process.

  • When do I need probate?

    The estate of a deceased person will need to go through probate if:

    • The deceased estate includes property, land or shares and the estate is valued at more than £5,000.
    • The contents of the deceased’s estate are held independently, not jointly with another.

    If you are not sure whether probate will be required, get in touch with our personal tax team.

  • What is probate?

    Probate is the term generically used for the financial process of dealing with a person’s estate when they die.

    The probate process ensures that; relevant taxes are calculated and paid, money owing to creditors is settled and debts are collected. If a will has been made, the deceased’s remaining assets are then distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with his or her wishes.

    If there is a will naming executors, and they are willing and able to act, they become the personal representatives. They will need to obtain a grant of probate from the Probate Registry, which will enable them to fulfil their duties.

    There are several stages to the probate process. An executor should be confident that they have the skills and the time to carry out all these duties before agreeing to act. Alternatively, they can appoint a licensed professional advisor to do this for them.

    Get in touch for more information on our probate services.

  • Why do I need a strategic plan?

    A strategy lays out what you want to achieve and, broadly, how you are going to do it. It clarifies what the business will focus on and what is not a priority. This helps you communicate what areas of the business you will be growing and investing in and which will receive less attention, so you can drive investment and action into the right projects and tasks.

    Creating a business strategy that the whole management team are behind:

    • simplifies decision making
    • drives alignment across the business
    • streamlines resource and expenditure planning
    • keeps you competitive – productivity and profit
    • creates new opportunities
    • helps galvanise the team

    Get in touch with our business consultants to find out more about how they can help you with your strategic planning.

  • What is the strategic planning process?

    It is helpful to view the strategic planning process as four broad stages.

    Determine your current position by reviewing data, ideally from both inside and outside of the business to get a clear picture of your starting point. It’s important to consider data from multiple sources – clients/customers, employees, suppliers, industry bodies and marketplace statistics are all valuable sources of data.

    Develop your strategy and define the strategic cornerstones that will act as your reference point for all your decisions. You will also need to think about funding any changes you plan to make and setting targets so you can check how you are progressing.

    Build the plan and share it with the wider team. Strategic planning sets the high-level goals for the business and its general direction of travel. Your wider team need to understand what this means for their area of the business so they can create organisational level plans that enable them to work towards your goals.

    Work the plan, implementing changes and measuring results. It’s important to monitor the impact of the changes so you can celebrate successes along the way and re-align anything that’s not quite working.

    Results are fed back into the process to determine your new position – how has it changed and has it moved in the right direction? The iterative nature of the process is the reason it is sometimes known as the strategic planning cycle.

    Some organisations choose to manage the whole process on their own; others ask external advisors and facilitators to help them with certain stages. Strategic planning isn’t something you can wholly outsource – after all, it’s about the future of your business and the whole management team needs to take ownership of it. You will want an advisor to work alongside you, complementing the skills of your management team and providing fresh insights; someone who will remain independent whilst having your best interests at heart.

    Get in touch with our business consultants to find out more about how they can help you with your strategic planning.

  • What is strategic planning?

    Strategic planning is a management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, and shape operations.

    It involves assessing the organisations current position in the market and deciding how to respond to its changing environment. Strategic planning aims to agree goals for the business that will guide the actions of employees and other stakeholders so that they work toward desired outcomes.

    The outputs from strategic planning usually include statements on the organisation’s vision, values and mission as well as a clear strategic plan. Together these ‘set the agenda’ for the business at a high level and act as a reference point for future decision making.

    Done well, strategic planning helps the business to ask and answer tough questions about the future focus of the business. Choosing a direction necessitates ruling out other options. It’s unlikely that there will be a single ‘right’ way to go and differences of opinion are to be expected – even relished.

    It is important to air the differences and work through them, making sure the senior team agree on where they want to take the business and how. Without that commitment, you will struggle to turn the plan into actions, and actions into desired results.

    Many management teams recognise that it is difficult for them to take part in the discussion and mediate the outcome. They find working with an independent facilitator helps them explore options and resolve conflict to create a plan they all believe in.

    Get in touch with our business advisors to find out more about how they can help you with your strategic planning.

  • What sort of accounts do charities need to prepare?

    All charities, whether registered with the charity commission or not, must prepare a trustees’ annual report and accounts which must be available to the public on request.

    While some basic requirements apply to all charities, exactly what needs to be included in the accounts will depend on factors such as income, gross assets and charity constitution.

    Charities may prepare their accounts on either a receipts and payments basis, or an accruals basis. The method they use will depend on the income of the charity and whether or not it has been set up as a company.

    The simpler receipt and payments method can be adopted by non-company charities with a gross income of £250,000 or less. It consists of an account summarising all money received and paid out by the charity in the financial year, and a statement of its assets and liabilities at the end of the year.

    All charitable companies and non-company charities with gross income of over £250,000 in the accounting period must prepare their accounts on an accruals basis.  The accounts must contain a balance sheet, a statement of financial activities and explanatory notes and must comply with the SORP.

    For more information on preparing charity accounts get in touch with our charities team.

  • Why should I seek ‘Advance Assurance’ from HMRC?

    Both EIS and SEIS schemes are designed to attract funding to companies that are seen as higher risk investments. An advance assurance from HMRC gives potential investors confidence that the shares to be issued by the company should qualify for EIS/SEIS relief. This means their investment should receive the expected tax benefits as long as they themselves meet the EIS/SEIS requirements for an investor.

    Under these schemes, investors are committing their cash for a minimum of 3 years of in your company. Confirmation of your company’s eligibility for the scheme will help an investor to invest in your company rather than someone else’s.

    To receive advance assurance, you will need to provide information that enables HMRC to consider whether if:

    • your company can be expected to be a qualifying company
    • your company shares to be issued will be eligible shares
    • your company shares will be issued to raise money for a qualifying business activity
    • the money raised will be employed within 2 years of the shares being issued and only by companies which satisfy the rules of the scheme (not by other companies in the same group)

    It is important to provide all relevant information to HMRC to make sure your clearance application is sound. Tax reliefs can be withdrawn from EIS/SEIS investors if the company fails to meet certain conditions throughout its 3-year qualifying period.

    Do you still have questions? Get in touch with our tax team to find out more about how they can help you.

  • What is FATCA and who does it affect?

    The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is one of the governments measures to aid in the elimination of international tax avoidance. It was introduced to improve tax compliance by US citizens or those defined as ‘US Persons for tax purposes’.

    Whilst it is part of US legislation, the information exchange arrangements between the US and UK authorities mean that this is now also part of UK law. As such, it affects all UK entities which manage financial assets and accounts outside of the US including financial organisations, companies, professional practices and Trusts.

    This legislation is primarily concerned with US taxes, but even if you have no links to the US, you may still need to complete the requested declaration. There is nothing to worry about and we can help if you receive a notice to certify your status and advise you how to complete the forms.

    Do you still have questions? Get in touch with our tax team to find out how they can help you.

  • What are the responsibilities of an occupational pension scheme trustee?

    A trustee can be a person or a company who holds the assets of the pension scheme for its beneficiaries. The scheme assets are often held in a trust to keep them separate from the employer’s assets and so the scheme can benefit from particular tax reliefs.

    Pension scheme trustees play an important role in making sure that the scheme is run honestly, efficiently and in the best interests of its members.

    If you have been invited to be a pension trustee, you should fully understand the commitment you are making before you agree to take on the role. If something goes wrong with the pension scheme, trustees may be held personally liable for any loss caused.

    Trustees are expected to organise the training that they need to meet their responsibilities and keep their knowledge up to date. You will be expected to understand the law relating to pensions and trusts, scheme funding and investment of the assets of schemes, amongst other legal requirements.  You will also need a good understanding of certain pension scheme documents including the trust deed and rules, the statement of investment principles and the statement of funding principles.

    Trustees have a number of specific duties, including making sure that:

    Contributions are paid by the employer at the right level and right time.

    Benefits are paid to the relevant scheme members on time.

    Accounting records are full and accurate, including written records of trustees’ meetings.

    An annual report is available within seven months of the scheme year end.

    An auditor’s statement is obtained which confirms the details of the payment of contributions into the scheme.

    Scheme accounts are audited, if required.

    Pension funds are invested within the bounds of the relevant law and the scheme’s investment principles.

    Professional advisers are appointed as needed. Pension schemes can be complicated to run and trustees will require specialist advice to help them to make decisions on behalf of the members.

    Members are provided with information on the scheme and on their own benefits.

    The Pension Regulator (TPR) is provided with the legally required information for their register, an annual return for the scheme and its annual levy.

    We help pension trustees to meet their obligations by advising on the accounting and audit requirements of their scheme, and by providing independent audits.

    Do you still have questions? Get in touch with our pension scheme team to find out more about how they can help you.

  • How can I make sure my charity accounts for Gift Aid properly?

    Claiming the right amount of relief under Gift Aid and the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GADS) depends on a clear policy and good record keeping. Make sure that you:

    • Keep gift aid declarations for 6 years after the most recent donation on which you claimed gift aid.
    • Keep an audit trail to link each gift aid claim to a specific individual donor and their gift aid declaration.
    • Keep a record of which donations you are claiming for under GADS and those you are claiming for under Gift Aid to avoid making duplicate claims. Having a clear policy on what you will claim for under each scheme will help you to manage this.
    • Check your GADS claim is the lower of:
      • £8,000; or
      • 10 times the amount of donations on which Gift Aid has been claimed

    Errors on Gift Aid claims will be extrapolated by HMRC and used to calculate any repayment due to them. This calculation may be applied to up to 6 years of claims, so getting it wrong could be costly. Ask your accountant to check your Gift Aid process is robust.

    Do you still have questions? Get in touch with our charities team to find out more about how they can help you.

  • Does my charity require and audit or independent examination?

    To decide if your charity needs some form of external scrutiny, you will need to refer to:

    • Statutory framework and audit thresholds for charities
    • The charity’s governing document

    You must follow whichever of these sources of guidance stipulates the highest standard of scrutiny.

    Statutory framework

    Charities with a gross income of £1m or less can decide to have an independent examination instead of an audit as long as:

    • their gross assets do not exceed £3.26 million and
    • their gross income does not exceed £250,000.

    Charities with gross income of £25,000 or less are not generally required to have any form of external scrutiny.

    The governing document

    Trustees will need to interpret the precise wording of the charities governing document to clarify what sort of external scrutiny is required. The Charity Commission recommends that trustees keep a record of how they interpret the charity’s governing document, and, if in doubt, consult the Commission for advice.

    Your charity’s governing document may stipulate who should carry out the review. This is a minimum requirement that the trustees have to meet, and it could mean that your charity has to have a more stringent review that it is obliged to have under the statutory guidance.

    Do you still have questions? Get in touch with our charities team to find out more about how they can help you.

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