The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is preparing 30 of its members to apply for practice rights to conduct reserved activities in the area of probate.

The Ministry of Justice last week rubber-stamped the ICAEW’s application for licensing powers in probate as well powers for it to license alternative business structures.

The application to extend the regulator’s licensing powers is awaiting parliamentary approval in June.

Vernon Soare, the institute's executive director, told the Gazette that accountancy firms already do a lot of work in the area of probate. ‘Much of it is like a highly complex tax return,’ he said.

Soare said the ICAEW was working with members on how to prepare their applications for reserved activities so their extension of practice rights could be granted speedily once parliamentary approval is granted. 

But he said: ‘We don’t want to pre-empt parliament, we have to be mindful of business and competition.’

Soare said the body is also helping one of the top 12 accountancy firms on how to apply for an ABS licence through the ICAEW.

He said the institute would also consider applying for an extension of practice rights in notarial services and deed and transfer activities in conveyancing.

Viv Williams, chief executive of consultancy 360 Legal, said accountancy firms moving into process-driven areas of law such as probate will be of ‘particular concern’ to law firms. He said process work is an area in which accountancy firms have been traditionally strong.

The MoJ also gave the green light to the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives for licensing powers in reserved legal activities for probate.