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Inheritance Tax and Probate software

Feedback on my researches

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Following this thread https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/filling-in-form-iht400-0 it is clear that I am not alone in desiring IHT400 software. I thought I would share the results of my researches, and would welcome input from those who already use these programs.

Starting from the HMRC list of approved online suppliers is a bit misleading - after three years they have still not come up with an API so IHT forms still have to be printed and posted. But it did enable me to discount suppliers of high end (expensive) products and concentrate on three who were willing to pick up the phone - all gave me an online demo in person and I recommend all three for your serious consideration.

As for me, I'm thinking about whether to get authorised under the wing of ICAEW for Probate work, so what I choose to use depends on how 'deep' I get into this.

I have come to realise that lawyers use software quite like us accountants, with different products for different levels. So I am looking for something along the lines of TaxCalc, which puts a professional skin around what I do and makes me look good (next time you want a commercial lease, you will know that the solicitor has charged oodles for getting it off their system!). They call each new job a 'matter'.

Form Evo
This firm does not hold itself out to provide full 'case management' but to provide all the forms that a legal firm might need. At only £14 a month that seems a sensible trade-off and is an entry point.

You fill in the forms direct on screen, it will do IHT100 and you can request a form that they don't do - they have a taste for adding products that might secure a demand. Share and e-sign is £10 'per matter' and e-sign alone £2.50. Access through your browser, and so device-independent.

LEAP
At £129 per user a month, this product sets out to do much more, and claims to have one in four law firms in the UK on its books. One man bands and SMEs are its target market and a 12.5% discount can be obtained on professional indemnity insurance with its preferred broker.

Access via browser or a dedicated app. They seem a bit woolly on the Macintosh version of this but we already use Parallels to link with Moneysoft Payroll so not too much of a sacrifice.

The integration with Microsoft is impressive. The program looks and feels like current office 365 and I think it is built in a Microsoft database product such as Azure SQL. So data writes to and from Excel and Word seamlessly.

One day's worth of training is included

Proclaim (from Eclipse, owned by Access)
Not available through a browser, the company says that their dedicated app works well on a Mac. As with the others, you are still accessing the data on their server - good for access, data security and GDPR.

At £99 per user this is a very heavyweight program for a budget price (but it is an extra £14.95 for personal support). I don't find the interface so attractive and feel that it would be best suited for a larger firm where time recording and accountability are priorities. For instance a person's work is recorded to the Nth degree so someone else could step in. But for little me I fear that I would spend a lot of time serving the system rather than doing the work. Possibly unfair for me to say this because the almost obsessive checks and balances put in by the programmers ensure that nothing is missed and auto-generate correspondence such as letters to banks and insurance companies, beneficiaries etc, and Estate Accounts.

Is the time spent feeding the system paid back in results? I would love to hear from those who use it already

Conclusion
Instinctively I would start with Form Evo and move up to LEAP if required. But Proclaim is seductive. They are all good people, nice to deal with and I recommend you to consider them.

Replies (7)

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Jane
By Jane Evans
26th Feb 2021 12:09

This is really helpful information, thank you. I have an IHT form to do now so will try one of them.

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By Paul D Utherone
26th Feb 2021 12:57

If you have Tolley Library I believe that this, and others, are available through Smart Form

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By lordbase
30th Apr 2021 09:41

Appreciate this is a bit late, but we tried the leap software last year, it was expensive as it only comes as part of a practice management suite. Every time we tried to use it there where issues which meant that we had to wait for support to spend 2 weeks fixing the problem. It was really not fit for purpose and 6 months later still has serious problems every time we try to use it. On top of this they tie you in to a 3 year contract, so we are now stuck with software which doesn't work and yet we ended up doing our returns on paper.

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Replying to lordbase:
David Ross
By davidross
01st May 2021 12:00

Thank you. Not too late as I still haven't 'taken the leap' - I will watch out for their Ts and Cs as this sounds disappointing

If they have not delivered the service, why should you be bound by their contract?

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Replying to davidross:
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By lordbase
13th May 2021 11:01

Their argument is that as we hadn't used the other elements of the software (billing/file management/reporting - which we didn't want in the first place) we hadn't met the requirements under the money back guarantee. Discussions are continuing!

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By Warwickshire Accountant
21st Jul 2021 11:48

We used Leap for 3 years and thought it was awful. As with all of these things it promised the word and failed to deliver the majority of it. Filling in the necessary IHT forms resulted to being a manual process on large estates and you ended up having to manually check and change everything which made the whole computerised process pointless.

During our "one days" training, the trainer seemed to have a complete lack of understanding on how basic IT worked but did sort of know the product, although she did accidentally send a test email to one of my clients to which I then had to go and apologise to the client for.

During the 3 year contract, Leap then brought in 'By Lawyers Guides and Precedents' which put everything you wanted behind further additional paid for access; increasing the monthly costs further.

Overall we felt it was overpriced and significantly under delivering which is why we chose not to renew our subscription with them. We are now reviewing the options on who to use going forwards.

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Jane
By Jane Evans
21st Jul 2021 14:50

Meanwhile I am finding FormEvo to be excellent. I have used it for two sets of IHT forms and I paid the monthly fee when I was using it. I haven't used it for the last month and I haven't been invoiced for this month. This is ideal for very occasional use.

Form Evo provided a one hour training discussion. I found this worked best after I had been using the software for a while.

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