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Accountant agreement and terms

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  • Accountant agreement and terms

    When my mother died, we defaulted to using her accountant to deal with her income tax affairs without considering getting a different one and were never sent or asked to sign an agreement or terms and conditions.

    Would I as an executor be bound by this agreement or their standard terms of business which my mother signed, and if not what is the legal situation between us?

    Tags: None

  • #2
    Hi Jesmar,
    Sorry to hear of your loss. When did your mother pass away and have you obtained a Grant yet?
    If an accountant was needed to sort out any outstanding tax then it was probably sensible to use the accountant that your mother used in her lifetime. Did you instruct them to prepare final accounts or would you have been able to deal with this yourself? What information/advice was taken or given to you? What work was needed? Have you now had clearance from HMRC on your mother's tax affairs?
    Has the accountant now presented a bill?
    If an accountant was needed as you were not able to deal yourselves then you would expect to pay for this service. Bear in mind that going to another accountant may have taken extra time in preparing accounts, as they would not have known your mother's accounting needs. Do you know what the terms and conditions were when your mother instructed them?
    Any fees paid for preparation of accounts, tax returns etc is deductible from the estate. In the usual course of things terms and conditions would be agreed with the executor/administrator.
    Sorry more questions than answers at this stage.
    I am a qualified solicitor and am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

    If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

    Comment


    • #3

      Originally posted by Peridot View Post
      When did your mother pass away and have you obtained a Grant yet?
      A year ago and Yes.


      Originally posted by Peridot View Post
      If an accountant was needed to sort out any outstanding tax then it was probably sensible to use the accountant that your mother used in her lifetime. Did you instruct them to prepare final accounts or would you have been able to deal with this yourself?
      My mother engaged this accountant towards the end of 2016 to do her 2017 tax returns when her previous accountant retired.

      In the last half of 2017 my sister who is not an executor, in her capacity as attorney, dealt with him to do the 2017 tax return which was completed and paid for in 2017 and the only subsequent communication from the accountant a few weeks before my mother's death was a letter in April 2018 asking for her tax information for 2018.

      Three days after my mother's death, the sister who is not an executor contacted the accountant with a file that she said she had been preparing for the 2018 return. When I met the accountant a week later to give him a P60 and some other bits and pieces that I can't remember, he told me that he had all the info he needed and I just accepted the fact that he would be doing the income tax for us.


      Originally posted by Peridot View Post
      What information/advice was taken or given to you?
      - I only met the accountant briefly in his office reception when I took in some documents and I was given no information about his fees (£160 an hour) or organisational structure which acted as a 'force multiplier'.


      Originally posted by Peridot View Post
      What work was needed?
      - The work needed was for the 2017/18 return and about 5 weeks of 2019. It also later turned out that 2017 had to be redone due to omissions and errors by my sister and the accountant.



      Originally posted by Peridot View Post
      Have you now had clearance from HMRC on your mother's tax affairs?
      - I assume that our solicitor has but she hasn't said anything to us.

      Originally posted by Peridot View Post
      Has the accountant now presented a bill?
      - Yes three bills one of which I had never seen before


      Originally posted by Peridot View Post
      Do you know what the terms and conditions were when your mother instructed them?
      Yes I was sent copies of the agreement and standard personal client terms by the complaints partner.


      Originally posted by Peridot View Post
      In the usual course of things terms and conditions would be agreed with the executor/administrator.
      There has been nothing usual about this probate due to a sociopathic sister whose behaviour and manipulation of my other sister who is my co-executor has brought our combined solicitor and accountants bill to nearly £15,000 so far and terms and conditions have never even been mentioned to me by the accountant. Somehow it just slipped under the radar!

      Knowing my sisters propensity for undermining anything that I try to do, I had instructed the accountant right from the start to liaise with our solicitor. Because he didn't follow my instruction, things soon got out of control but it was only after he had sent his final invoice that I found that he had been withholding the fact that he had done a lot of totally unnecessary work in response to gratuitous queries from my sister, that had no effect whatsoever on the final returns, at a time when he had given me the impression that he was dealing with nobody other than myself and that all that was necessary to complete the returns were a few minor pieces of information from me.

      This was his response to my complaint about the involvement of my non-executor sister and was highly disingenuous in my opinion, as he has treated me and my co-executor as separate clients and not jointly as he implies. Since it was all over before I found out about it there was nothing that I could do. I should add that my co-executor really is a dimwit and bone idle to boot and that my non-executor sister has been the de facto executor and I seem to be powerless to do anything about it.

      "I believe she was assisting X with her duties as an executor. X has every right to ask whomever she wants to assist her with her role, in the same way that you do. This includes appointing accountants and solicitors to assist. If X felt there was benefit to involving others for their knowledge of the circumstances, I feel this is an appropriate course of action. If I receive instruction from X I shall act in the same way as if received from you, as you jointly represent the estate of your late mother."
      We are now in the final stage of estate admin and all that is outstanding is to pay the accountant, finish conveyancing and to agree on probate expenses and distribution of personal property etc. I don't know if we have had clearance from HMRC but 3 returns were submitted on time in January.

      I am so livid about the duplicity of the accountant that I want to take my complaint to his professional body rather than waste time with the firm but the standard client terms seem to restrict you to complaining to the partnership as a whole.

      I can't see how I would be bound by something that I haven't signed so I hope that you can give me an unequivocal answer.

      Thanks.

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi Jesmar,
        On your mother's death the original client relationship (with your sister instructing on behalf of mum) would have ended. I would suggest that it was probably reasonable to continue with the accountant preparing the next years accounts which they had been instructed to do shortly before your mother passed but any 'additional' work after the date of death they would have required instruction by the executor. Has the probate solicitor been communicating with them in addition to the non-executor sister or has all this come through your co-executor?
        I am a qualified solicitor and am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

        Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

        If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Peridot View Post
          Hi Jesmar,
          On your mother's death the original client relationship (with your sister instructing on behalf of mum) would have ended. I would suggest that it was probably reasonable to continue with the accountant preparing the next years accounts which they had been instructed to do shortly before your mother passed but any 'additional' work after the date of death they would have required instruction by the executor. Has the probate solicitor been communicating with them in addition to the non-executor sister or has all this come through your co-executor?
          Hi Peridot

          Thanks for that. It was my non-executor sister.who butted in a few days before I had met the accountant and he acted on her instructions to do the work without any reference to me.

          The question about the solicitor communicating with the accountant is open to speculation. I discovered that the accountant had sent an email to my co-executor and copied in our solicitor but not myself and the solicitor had never sent me a copy. The missing attachment which I still haven't seen consisted of the answers to my other sister's gratuitous queries for which the accountant charged about £500

          There is more that suggests our solicitor might well have known what my non-executor sister was doing and a few days ago I asked for copies of half a dozen emails that I had never seen but had been referred to in other emails. I also asked specifically for copies of any other emails that had passed between the solicitor and the accountant or my non-executor sister, except those in a short list I gave them.

          My co-executor objected strongly to my request on the grounds that it would be unnecessary expense in time to retrieve these copies and amazingly today the solicitor got back to us and said that because my co-executor objected to me having copies of the emails she could do nothing. She must think I'm wet behind the ears!

          I will continue in the post about Court of Probate

          Last edited by Jesmar; 30th April 2019, 16:53:PM.

          Comment

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