Chartered Accountants and Professional Business Advisers

Probate and estate administration

We understand how difficult it can be to handle someone’s legal and financial affairs, particularly at a time when you’re likely to be coming to terms with the death of someone close. But don’t worry, we’re here to help (through our subsidiary, Shipleys Probate Services Ltd), providing as much or as little support as you need to get things done.

A Guide to Probate

Probate and estate administration is a legal and financial process which happens after someone has died. It can be a very complicated and lengthy procedure to complete. To help explain the process and the legal and financial terms used, please read our guide here.

Applying for Probate

Whether you choose to carry out the probate and estate administration process yourself, or you instruct us to do the work for you, the application for probate is still the same and involves:

  • Finding the will
  • Applying for the grant of representation
  • Administering the estate
  • Preparing the estate accounts
  • Distributing the assets to the beneficiaries of the estate.

A more detailed overview of the process can be found in our ‘Guide to Probate’.

Why choose us?

Specialists - We are one of only a few qualified accountancy firms in the country who are licensed to carry out probate work. This, combined with our expertise in all areas of accounts, tax and estate administration means you can have total confidence in us handling the whole process for you.

Background knowledge - If the deceased was a client of ours, we are likely to have all the necessary financial information and background details to make the probate process as smooth as possible. If they were not a client, we can still deal with the probate application should their existing accountant not be licensed to do this work.

Quicker processing = reduced costs – As accountancy and tax specialists we’re used to gathering and calculating financial and tax related information. In doing so, we can reduce the amount of time it takes to compile the necessary information. By speeding up the process we can help you to keep the costs down, leaving more for the beneficiaries.

Competitive pricing – Whilst solicitors and banks can also carry out probate work, they tend to charge a fixed percentage based on the value of the estate, which could be as high as 4% even for simple estates. We feel that we are very competitively priced compared with other probate specialists and we’re happy to give you a quote based on the volume and complexity of the work which needs to be carried out. We are confident that our approach to gathering the relevant information, calculating what tax is due and administering the estate is quicker and more succinct, therefore keeping costs to a minimum.

Personal service – whilst carrying out any probate work we are always sensitive to your needs and emotions during this time. You can be sure that we will treat your legal and financial affairs discreetly and in the strictest confidence and take the administrative burden away from you wherever possible.

How we can also help

In addition to providing the probate and estate administration service, we can also help you and your family in the following related areas:

  • Estate planning
  • Executorships
  • Financial planning and wealth management
  • Inheritance tax planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Trusts planning and administration
  • Will writing

Contact us

For more information about our probate and estate administration service, please get in touch.

Wills, probate and estate administration

Everyone wants to choose their heirs and many want to save inheritance tax (IHT). But only about half make a valid will and about £5 billion of IHT is paid each year.

We help our clients understand their options and how these affect the IHT payable on their estate. The IHT work varies from simplify calculating how much will be payable, and by whom, to putting together a longer term plan identifying what can be done to reduce the potential bill. This can include tax efficient investments, gifts, maximising exemptions or setting up a trust, for example.  Our detailed knowledge of our clients' circumstances and their finances means that we are ideally placed to point out options worth considering.

This leads to us preparing an up to date Will that reflects your assets and wishes. With soaring house prices, and increasing complicated families, people are more likely to really need a will than ever before. Without a valid Will, on your death your estate is generally divided up in accordance with the survivorship and intestacy rules. This is likely to mean your actual beneficiaries are not those you intended, and in many cases it results in a higher IHT bill.

Powers of attorneys over Property and financial affairs, or your Health and welfare, may also be sensible, and again we can prepare these for you.

In due course we can help your executors with the probate application for your estate, dealing with HMRC over all the tax returns and IHT forms, and then administering your estate. This includes transferring assets or making payments to your beneficiaries.

HR consultancy

Our approach to HR services is the same as our financial work. We get to know our clients, their objectives and priorities, to build up a close personal relationship over time. We believe that this relationship combined with our professional expertise and enthusiasm is the foundation for providing the service which is 'right' for you.

We can provide the straightforward, practical, and commercially focused HR advice that your business needs. This gives you the confidence and security of knowing that that you are complying with UK employment legislation, and helps make your business more successful by getting the best out of your people.

By working with us, we’ll help free up your time so you can focus on doing what you do best; running and growing your business. The areas covered by our HR advice include the following:

  • Employment documentation, policies, handbooks and efficient procedures
  • Employment legislation in the workplace
  • People management
  • Absence management
  • Managing change/ transformation/ restructure/ TUPE
  • Dismissals/ Settlement Agreements/ tribunal case management
  • Workplace mediation
  • Grievance & disciplinary matters
  • Flexible working and family friendly legislation
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Employee engagement

We only charge for the advice you need – there is no ongoing subscription or overhead associated with taking someone on.

Wealth management

Allonby + Partners is affiliated with Shipleys, providing independent financial planning and investment advice for private individuals, families and trustees.

We firmly believe in being fiercely independent and acting on your behalf by identifying where we can add value. We won’t try to predict the future or have our heads turned by the latest investment fashions. We will be honest with you and act as your professional cynics.

Our clients work with us during pivotal moments of their lives, including:

  • The sale of a business
  • Approaching retirement
  • Divorce
  • Inheritance planning.

To find out more about what we do and who we are, visit:

Inward investment

The UK is well-known as a popular destination for inward investment. The attractive tax rates, a reliable legal system, the use of the English language and membership of the EU are factors that have made it attractive to foreign investors and organisations. Brexit has created a certain element of fear around the potential implications for inward investment, and the challenges facing overseas businesses operating in the UK are increasingly demanding.

We will ensure that you remain up-to-date and compliant with all the latest developments to UK tax and accounting rules to really guide you through this uncertain time.

How we can help

We work with overseas investors and organisations, from start-ups to subsidiaries of multi-national organisations, who are looking to establish themselves and/or expand in the UK.

If you’re thinking of starting up a business in the UK, we can help you with the following services:

  • setting up an entity
  • sourcing businesses to invest into
  • providing due diligence
  • assisting you with your compliance requirements including VAT and PAYE
  • finding a UK bank and opening an account
  • managing your accounts and performing audits
  • providing with you the latest advice on corporation tax, the tax incentives available for companies in the UK and for investors, and personal tax
  • helping you to locate office space in the UK
  • recommending the best ways to source a salesforce
  • advising you on considerations when employing in the UK and providing HR advice and support
  • providing you with details of trusted lawyers, insurance contacts and assistance with leases.

As members of AGN International, a global association of separate and independent accounting and advisory businesses, you will also have access to local rules and practices across the globe.

Examples of our work

We have worked with a number of organisations to help them establish and expand in the UK. Recent clients include a leading consultancy and IT services company, an overseas hotel group, a leading provider of data rooms in Europe and a global project management company.

Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, on any of the subjects covered above.

Bookkeeping in the cloud

More and more business are now choosing to keep their accounting records in the cloud, using modern software that’s written for business people not accountants. There are even adverts for cloud accounting software on TV!

These new generation software packages really do make keeping your business records a lot easier, saving you time and allowing you to concentrate on the important things in your businesses whilst keeping you out of trouble with people like the tax man. The way the software presents your financial information is so vastly improved that many business owners find they feel much more in day to day control of their finances – sometimes for the first time ever!

We think that bookkeeping in the cloud – ‘cloud accounting’ is the best choice for most businesses.

There are a number of different cloud accounting packages available.  We can support any cloud accounting package, we are Quickbooks certified and are experienced in other software providers such as Free Agent', but we are partnered with Xero and would recommend that to our clients.


We offer flexible payroll services for organisations of all sizes. For some clients, we deal with just the calculations; for others, we administer the entire process - including employees’ payslips, issuing instructions to your bank, HMRC online filing and uploading pension reports.

We know that keeping abreast of the current rules and investing in systems to deal with payroll matters can be time consuming, expensive and, in recent years, has become much more complicated. We can ensure that your payroll affairs are accurate and dealt with efficiently and promptly.

Employers normally have to register a PAYE (Pay As You Earn) scheme with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and use it to deduct tax and National Insurance Contributions from employees’ salaries. Our payroll bureau set this scheme up on your behalf, and can work out these deductions and how much everybody must be paid.

The benefits of using our payroll service include:

  • Saving you time, allowing you to focus on what’s important for you and your business
  • Compliance with the relevant HMRC legislation
  • Increased accuracy of your PAYE returns
  • Avoidance of interest and penalties
  • No expensive licences or software to maintain
  • Resolution of staff and HMRC queries before they cause additional problems
  • Access to HR advice
  • Access to advice on tax efficient structuring of remuneration packages
  • Access to your dedicated payroll administrator
  • Pension auto-enrolment processing and compliance.

Whether you manage your payroll in-house or outsource, you must consider that with the introduction of Real Time Information (RTI), all employers must now report their payroll information online using a full payment submission (FPS) for each pay period. Every employee’s earnings must be reported on or before each payday, not just summarised at the end of the year. The system you use must also enable you to cope with your obligations under the new pensions auto-enrolment rules.

Forensic accounting

Shipleys' forensic accounting team are all qualified Chartered Accountants. We work with solicitors and their clients to help quantify and explain the numbers with the ultimate aim of resolving disputes effectively. Our team provides professional forensic accounting advice and evidence covering multiple disciplines, including the following services:

  • Impartial resolution of business valuation disputes for both shareholders and partnerships;
  • Resolution of disputes arising on the sale of businesses, including provisions for warranty claims and deferred consideration;
  • Commercial fraud and financial crime;
  • Investigations into infringements of regulatory compliance.
  • Reviews of auditor and accountant professional negligence;
  • Providing assurance on claims for damages, loss of profits, personal injury and negligence.

Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, on any of the subjects covered above.


VAT was first introduced in the UK in 1973 and famously described by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Anthony Barber, as a "simple tax". VAT has since become increasingly complex and many businesses struggle to cope with it.

VAT registration

Registration is a key component of the UK VAT system and is an area of compliance that our experienced team deals with on a regular basis.

Anyone conducting a business activity should consider whether or not to register for VAT. The three main reasons for registering are if:

  • turnover from taxable supplies exceeds the threshold, in which case registration is compulsory
  • turnover is less than the threshold, but it is nevertheless desirable to register in order to recover VAT on costs, facilitate dealings with suppliers or enhance the reputation of the business
  • the business has not started to trade but wants to recover VAT on the costs of setting up.

VAT registration is a formal and strictly controlled process in the UK and is much less straightforward than it appears. There is also an expensive and fairly inflexible penalty regime for failing to register at the right time.

So, although registration ought to be a simple exercise, it can prove to be time-consuming and costly.

Our team has helped hundreds of businesses to register for VAT, and we can provide as little or as much help as you need.

VAT simplification schemes

Once a business is registered for VAT it has a number of obligations, such as filing VAT returns and keeping records.

We can help make this easier by advising on simplification schemes such as:

  • the flat rate scheme
  • cash accounting
  • annual accounting.

Our team can guide you through the maze of schemes and eligibility criteria to match you with the right scheme(s) to suit your circumstances.

Other VAT schemes

There are a number of other VAT schemes that may affect your business. The scope of these schemes may be wider than their names suggest. Furthermore, some are mandatory, while others are highly desirable to reduce the overall VAT payable. Expert advice is therefore essential.

The main schemes are:

  • Tour Operators Margin Scheme (TOMS)
  • margin schemes for second-hand goods, works of art, antiques and similar
  • domestic reverse charge accounting scheme that covers such things as computers, computer chips and mobile phones
  • partial exemption
  • Capital Goods Scheme
  • option to tax in respect of commercial real estate
  • flat rate scheme for farmers
  • self-billing.

For the most part, VAT is a business matter and of little interest to individuals other than those who are self-employed, but not exclusively so. For example, some people can benefit from reliefs such as the DIY builder scheme or VAT reductions for the disabled.

Features common to all these schemes are complex rules, inflexible penalty regimes and strict record-keeping requirements. Our VAT team can advise on all aspects of these schemes and help guide you through the complexities.

Compliance and penalties

Complying with the VAT regime is not easy and it bristles with penalty provisions designed to encourage 'good behaviour'. Once a business is caught up in the penalty regime, things can quickly spiral out of control.

Whatever your situation, we can help you avoid:

  • late registration penalties, which can be as high as 100%
  • a misdeclaration penalty of up to100% for getting the figures on the VAT return wrong
  • surcharges of between 2% and 15% for failing to file returns and pay VAT on time.

In addition, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will levy interest if you owe money, but is rarely required to pay interest if money is owed to you.

High quality advice and assistance is essential to avoid getting caught by penalties or to improve compliance in order to get out of the penalty regime. Our wide VAT knowledge and experience of dealing with accounting systems and negotiating with the VAT man can be invaluable.


The scope for VAT planning suffered a setback a few years ago following HMRC’s success in the case involving the Halifax Building Society and the introduction of a General Anti Abuse Rule (GAAR). Nevertheless, there remain a number of opportunities to arrange your affairs so as to minimise the amount of VAT payable or maximise the amount of VAT recoverable. These can be as simple as making use of the continuous supply rules to defer the date when VAT becomes due, or can be complex arrangements designed to achieve an absolute VAT saving.

Our VAT team includes a former HMRC anti-avoidance adviser, so is well placed to help guide you through the minefield that VAT planning activity has become.

VAT audits and health checks

Our experienced VAT team can help to streamline and review your VAT records to:

  • improve compliance systems
  • avoid penalties
  • maximise input VAT recovery
  • minimise output VAT errors.

Training and publications

If you simply want to learn more about VAT as it applies to your business, we can provide tailored training as well as copies of useful VAT publications.

We also keep you abreast of the latest developments via updates on our website and a regular column in our Shipshape newsletter. Please contact us if you would like to join the mailing list.

Shipleys' VAT team

We've had a specialist VAT team at Shipleys for a number of years, providing support to clients across a wide range of business sectors. The team advises on everything from the basics of compliance, through to complex VAT planning.

The team can also provide assistance with queries relating to excise, inland customs, import, export and intra-EU dispatch, and arrival procedures and formalities.

For further information, please talk to your usual Shipleys' contact, or to Nancy Cruickshanks.

Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, on any of the subjects covered above.

Trusts & estates

Trusts can provide a tax efficient vehicle for the transfer of family wealth and business assets, with in-built safeguards to ensure assets pass to the right people at the right time.

The tax regime has made the operation of trusts increasingly complex, so expert advice is essential to make sure they are run cost and tax efficiently.

At Shipleys, we have a long history of providing trust and estate planning advice to our clients. We also take care of administration and tax compliance.

Trust planning

We can provide advice at the outset on the most suitable trust structures for you to control the transfer of personal and business assets to subsequent generations.

Where appropriate, we can arrange an introduction to a legal adviser to prepare the necessary legal paperwork.

Administration and accounting

Drawing on decades of experience in trust management, we can provide as much help and assistance as trustees need, up to and including being the primary interface between trustees, investment advisers and bankers involved in the administration of a trust and its assets.

With our wide range of contacts we can help you to choose the right people to be involved with the day-to-day trust administration and investment management. We also cater for the tax compliance and planning needs of offshore trustees. Through our network of contacts, we can establish and administer offshore trust vehicles where this is a tax efficient option.

Accounting services to trustees are provided using the latest accounting software, ensuring trustees comply with their duty to account properly for dealing with trust assets.

Tax compliance and ongoing advice

Compliance with HM Revenue & Customs requirements is an integral part of the management of a trust, both for UK and offshore structures.

Our team of tax specialists, supported by dedicated tax compliance software, ensures that trustees comply with their obligations in this area.

In addition, our ongoing service to trustees includes advice on legislative changes affecting trustees and any action that should be taken to ensure the trust structure continues to meet its objectives.

Inheritance tax planning

We are able to provide advice on all aspects of estate planning to mitigate inheritance tax (IHT) liabilities for our personal and business clients. Planning in both lifetime and on death can significantly reduce the IHT payable, and can be especially effective where business property is involved. The importance of a properly drawn up will cannot be over-stressed. Arrangements can be made with an appropriate legal adviser to draw up the most effective will for your circumstances. We are happy to review the terms of wills and suggest suitable amendments, eg. following fundamental tax changes introduced in a Budget or after the death of a spouse.

Our Trusts & Estates specialists can advise executors on any opportunities to mitigate liabilities to IHT, income tax or capital gains tax. In the case of variations of wills we advise on any potential tax savings and work in collaboration with legal advisers.

Estates administration and tax

We can also assist in the orderly winding-up of an estate, ensuring all tax compliance aspects are dealt with and preparing executorship accounts.

Guidance can be given to executors when preparing probate papers, either by personal application or through a family solicitor. Such assistance will also include advice on any IHT liability arising in the estate and possible means of tax mitigation, for example with deeds of variation.

Charitable trusts

Charitable trust accounts can give trustees a considerable headache due to continuing changes in the legislation relating to administration and record-keeping. Generally, 'smaller' charities with income between £10,000 and £250,000 must get their accounts independently examined, while 'larger' charities require audited accounts.

Tax compliance for charities is not usually problematic, however we can give advice on a charity's operations and the possible tax implications. We have VAT experts who can advise on any VAT issues relating to any trading activity. We can also deal with compliance work on the recovery of tax due to charities, particularly relating to investment income.

Shipleys has wide experience in offering accounting and auditing services to charitable trusts at all levels. We are able to produce annual accounts and the annual trustees'/directors' report in the format required by the Charity Commission. We can complete the annual return and details of the trustees/officers as now required by the Charity Commission for all registered charities.

Shipleys' Trusts & estates team

Our specialist team has wide experience of dealing with tax, administration and compliance issues, as well as liasing with other advisers - essential to make things run smoothly.

Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, on any of the subjects covered above.

Strategic business planning

Research indicates that a large proportion of businesses have no formal business plan. In our experience, our more successful clients are those who spend time and effort creating and then implementing their plans. It's normally an ongoing process, updated as market conditions change and the business develops.

Getting started

It's common to hear phrases like "work smarter not harder" or "work on the business not just in it", but living up to these principles is easier said than done. Just because it's common sense, doesn't mean that it's common practice.

It can be difficult to know where to begin. Consultants can be valuable in helping to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business, and the opportunities and threats in the wider market. These are critical factors to consider when putting together a business plan. But a plan created in this way is almost always doomed to be consigned to the bottom of your desk draw, because it's not your plan.

At Shipleys, we've got plenty of experience of helping our clients with business plans, often as part of a new business venture, fund-raising exercise or improvements to maximise value in anticipation of an exit or sale.

A different approach

Our approach is a bit different to that of a typical consultant. It's based on the fact that nobody knows the ins and outs of your business like you do. We help by combining your expertise and knowledge with a decent process.

We facilitate the planning process, so you get your plan for your business. Our experience and specialist planning tools make sure you cover all the bases. And because your plan will be of little real value unless it's implemented effectively, we'll help you prioritise and produce an action plan with clear timescales and responsibilities. We can also assist with the monitoring and review process.


For clients who want a taster of the potential benefits before taking the plunge with a full strategic planning review, we offer an introductory overview session to look at the planning process, and to help establish the needs and wants of the business owners.

Full strategic planning review

A full strategic planning review will normally involve the owners, and possibly other senior members of the management team, spending a full day with us. Away from the everyday distractions and interruptions of business, it allows you to identify and focus on what's important to the business and to you personally. Prioritised goals and projected future outcomes are recorded.

The strategic planning review takes you through a structured process. Remember, it's not about us giving you a report but about helping clarify what's important to you and to produce an action plan. Our role is facilitation.

Planning considerations

The strategic planning review  is divided into different areas, so depending on the needs of your business, we can help you with any or all of the following:

  • Clarifying where you are now
  • Understanding your goals as an organisation
  • Sales and marketing action plans
  • Strategic financial models
  • Structuring time more efficiently
  • Leadership
  • Assessing use of resources
  • Identifying cost saving opportunities
  • Planning for effective investment
  • Targeting key performance indicators

Your plan for your business

The end product is your plan for your business. It's a bespoke multi-year blueprint, presented as a substantial high-quality document, complete with action points and review processes to keep you on track.

Review and follow-up

To maintain your focus and momentum we can offer follow-up sessions to review progress and to examine any areas of concern or interest.

Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, on any of the subjects covered above.

Private clients

Shipleys specialises in looking after the financial affairs of wealthy individuals. We often work with a team of advisers with different expertise, such as lawyers, financial planners and stockbrokers, so that our clients benefit from well co-ordinated advice.

Tax returns

About eleven million taxpayers in the UK receive an annual tax return form that must be completed to report income and capital gains to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

But many people find collating the information, filling in the form and calculating the tax payable arduous and time-consuming. Almost half a million returns each year are late and incur penalties.

Shipleys offers a first-class, personal service covering every aspect of the annual tax return. We can contact third parties for the required information to reduce the burden on you.

We calculate the pension contributions you can make, advise on maximising the related tax relief and ensure the most suitable claim is made.

We review our clients' investment portfolios against stock market activity to take account of stock dividends, scrip issues, rights issues and takeovers. Our tax specialists keep track of the capital gains tax (CGT) costs and any capital losses to ensure that gains or losses can be easily worked out and appropriate reliefs claimed. With these calculations we can provide you with a better overall picture and help you decide whether to sell individual investment holdings and what to do with the portfolio as a whole.

We can also deal with inheritance tax (IHT) returns which may be required if you give assets away.

Estimate your penalty for late Self Assessment tax returns and payment here.

Tax-saving opportunities

We keep abreast of all changes to tax law and practice and are always alert to tax-saving opportunities. Our specialists make sure that any expenses allowed by HMRC are claimed in order to reduce the overall tax bill. Should you incur losses, we evaluate the possible tax-saving claims that could help you manage through potentially difficult periods.

Dealing with HMRC

Our use of specialist software enables us to accurately complete tax returns and calculate you overall tax position, thereby reducing the chance of an HMRC enquiry into your affairs. We produce our own tax liability calculations and statements that we reconcile with to those issued by HMRC, so that you pay the correct liability.

We advise you of deadlines and how much tax to pay so that you stay on the right side of the taxman and avoid late filing penalties, interest and surcharges.

Should your return be selected for enquiry by HMRC, we will deal with the queries quickly and effectively to ensure you are not subjected to unnecessary worry.

Income and capital gains tax planning

Our tax compliance procedures ensure that income tax and CGT planning are considered on a regular basis. However, we recommend our clients periodically ask us to undertake a more detailed review of their affairs.

For example, a tax review might cover the efficiency of specific investments, including tax shelters such as Enterprise Investment Schemes, Seed Enterprise Investment Schemes and Venture Capital Trusts, film and other investment schemes.

We also offer advice for people who are interested in tax planning arrangements that fall within the disclosure of tax avoidance scheme (DOTAS) procedure. HMRC is aware of these tax avoidance schemes and clients who participate enter the DOTAS reference number on their tax return.

In some instances we can devise bespoke tax efficient structures or arrangements to fit your specific circumstances. Examples include certain land sales, the remuneration structure and other planning for those coming from abroad to the UK, and CGT savings for clients who own more than one family home.

Estate planning and inheritance tax

Estate planning and IHT mitigation are key areas in managing family wealth. At the very least you should have a will and ensure it is up to date. Power of Attorneys may also be appropriate

IHT planning is often overlooked. Our knowledge, built up through dealing with clients' annual tax reporting, means that at Shipleys we are well placed to advise on the potential impact of IHT and can help you take advantage of established exemptions such as annual exemptions, ordinary expenditure out of income, business property relief and agricultural property relief.

Our advice also covers wills, the use of trusts and other planning arrangements. We work together with clients' legal advisers to ensure the intended arrangements are implemented properly. We can arrange suitable introductions for legal advice if required.

Trusts can provide a mechanism for the transfer of family wealth and business assets down the generations, with in-built safeguards to ensure assets pass to the intended person at a suitable time.

Our trusts and estates department advises not just on setting up such arrangements, but also provides administration and accounting to ensure the established trust remains appropriate, runs efficiently and is cost effective. Where possible, we tailor estate planning to mitigate IHT.

Financial planning

At Shipleys, we have excellent working relationships with numerous financial planners. We can introduce clients who need specialist advice in areas such as savings and investment (including school fees planning), pensions and annuities, IHT plans, mortgages, mortgage protection and insurance.

International tax planning

Through our membership of AGN International, a worldwide association of separate and independent accounting and advisory businesses, we can arrange specialist tax advice anywhere in the world. This is most common for clients with multiple homes and investments abroad.

Shipleys' Wealth Management team

Our approach builds close, long-term relationships based on an in-depth understanding of requirements. We also work with our clients' other advisers, such as lawyers, stockbrokers or financial planners. We can introduce new experts into the team when specialist advice is needed.

Some clients take advantage of our 'family office' service and ask us to lead and co-ordinate their professional adviser team, as well as direct and manage their financial affairs.

Shipleys' specialist wealth management team comprises experts with backgrounds in private practice, HMRC and financial services companies. All our staff are highly experienced and take pride in providing a bespoke personal service.

Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, on any of the subjects covered above.

International tax

Doing business outside an enterprise's home country is no longer confined to giant multinationals. Today, businesses of almost every size often need to broaden their customer base and supply chain to thrive in an increasingly internationally competitive environment. Technology has  transformed cross border communications. Now everyone has ready access to international markets and suppliers.

Local Presence

Some businesses will just wish to sell to customers located abroad. Others will offer composite services - perhaps providing additional facilities such as training, sales support or maintenance. For tax purposes, it's important to be clear about the scope and remit of any overseas presence and whether this constitutes a representative office, place of business, permanent establishment, branch or such like. These factors are important in determining liability to local corporate, payroll and sales taxes (VAT in the UK).

Local reporting and disclosure

The local reporting and filing obligations need to be taken into account in determining the most appropriate form for the local presence. For example, a company which establishes an overseas branch may find that it is obliged to have its accounts translated for filing on the public record in that overseas country.

International structuring

We assist clients in structuring their global operations to maximise tax efficiency bearing in mind the interaction of UK and overseas taxes. Such structures include suitable locations for a holding company, ownership of UK investment property by foreign residents, finance companies and ownership of intellectual property.


Our team advises on everything in the UK from the basics of compliance, including the requirement to register, through to complex VAT planning.

The team can also provide assistance with queries relating to excise, inland customs, import, export and intra-EU dispatch, and arrival procedures and formalities.

Expatriate Tax

Employers and those seconded often struggle to sort out how income should be taxed in each country, and to deal with the paperwork for tax, social security and pensions. We can minimise disruption to the business and highlighting opportunities to save ongoing costs.


We can set up and run UK payrolls, and help ensure that HM Revenue & Customs authorise the correct deductions

Company Formation and Company Secretarial

We can assist with setting up UK companies or overseas companies, trusts and foundations as part of our tax advisory service. Our membership of AGN gives us global reach and covers most of the commercial centres around the world.

Our team

We can help you decide what form of local presence is right for your business, and ensure you are aware of and help you comply with your local filing obligations. Careful tax structuring can often substantially lower the overall tax burden and also manage and reduce the risk of additional liabilities. We can help you ensure your international structure runs smoothly - for example by assisting with VAT returns, co-ordinating your overseas payroll or supporting your overseas employees so that they can get on with their job rather than floundering in local tax and social security regulations.

Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, on any of the subjects covered above.

Fee protection

Tax Investigations Service Summary

Service Period: 1st November 2018 to 31st October 2019
Service protection: Fee Protection of up to £100,000 is provided in the event of:

Full and aspect Enquiries into:

  • Corporation Tax Returns
  • Partnership Tax Returns
  • Sole Trader Tax Returns
  • Personal Tax Returns

Disputes into:

  • VAT
  • Employer Compliance (PAYE, P11D and NIC)
  • IR35

Code of Practice 8 enquiries (£5,000 fee limit) and Inheritance Tax enquiries (£5,000 fee limit)

HMRC use of Information and inspection powers/SCH 36 Pre Disputes in respect of:

  • VAT control visits
  • Employer Compliance Visits
  • Check of Employer Records
  • National Minimum Wage reviews
  • Interventions
  • Requests for information
  • Capital Gains Tax

Main Exclusions

  • Fees incurred prior to the written acceptance of a claim.
  • Returns submitted more than 90 days after the due date.
  • Notification by HMRC of any of the above prior to subscribing to the service
  • Failure to notify/register for tax or VAT.
  • Compliance costs associated with routine submission of statutory returns e.g. P11Ds, RTI Returns, CIS Returns etc.
  • Cases of suspected fraud e.g. Code of Practice 9 cases and Public Notice 160 enquiries.
  • Where there is no reasonable prospect of challenging HMRC (VAT, PAYE and IR35 Disputes).
  • Costs for third party valuations.
  • Tax planning arrangements where HMRC have allocated a DoTAS Number and/or bespoke tax planning arrangements outside of the normal trade.

In the event a client suffers an investigation, we will represent you and reclaim any costs incurred in dealing with the Enquiry directly from the insurance company. The practice will be responsible and have the discretion for making claims under our Policy. Clients will be responsible for any fees that we cannot recover from our Insurers.

Business legal helpline – 24-hour, 365 days a year

Business clients who subscribe to the service also have access to a 24-hour telephone helpline.

  • Employment
  • Health and safety, and
  • Business legal

Please call 0345 250 0762 and be ready to quote your Shipleys client reference number.

Business and commercial legal telephone helpline

Manned by a highly experienced team of more than 50 barristers and solicitors, the helpline provides a wide range of companies and organisations with commercial, employment and health and safety advice.
Commercial Advice There are many areas within a business which, if not handled correctly, can take a substantial amount of resources to resolve. The legal advisors will be at hand to provide you with details of the relevant and current legislation in respect of any guidance you may need on matters including:

  • Intellectual Property
  • Small claims court procedures
  • Business tenancies
  • Debt recovery
  • Dealing with complaint letters (asserting rights)
  • Dealing with statutory demands

Employment Advice Employment legislation can be a minefield and an incorrect decision could put your business into turmoil. Therefore, the advice line can help to ensure your business remains compliant and proper, fair procedures are followed. You can receive advice on matters including:

  • Recruitment
  • Discrimination
  • Appraisal and disciplinary procedures

Health & Safety Advice All businesses are required by law to undertake a full health and safety risk assessment of their premises and business procedures. In the event of accidents, businesses could be involved in a civil claim for compensation and there could also be criminal prosecutions resulting in fines and even imprisonment. You may receive advice on:

  • Undertaking health and safety assessments
  • Correct procedures in the workplace
  • Understanding new legislation

Legal Telephone Advice Services

The legal helpline is provided by Markel Law LLP and can advise on general UK law. Abbey Protection Group Limited is a corporate member of Markel Law LLP. Markel Law LLP is regulated and authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Markel Law makes no additional charge for providing these telephone services. The advice will primarily be provided by Markel Law LLP and its teams of solicitors, who are ultimately managed by the Advice Services Director. If the client has a complaint about these telephone legal advice services they should contact the Compliance Officer, Markel Law LLP, 5th Floor, The Observatory, Chapel Walks, Manchester M2 1HL. If the client is unhappy with the written response from the Compliance Officer, the client may contact the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ, or, or 0300 555 0333 and ask them to consider the matter. The Legal Ombudsman will only consider matters which have been submitted to it within the earliest of the following timescales: (a) within 1 year from the act/omission complained of; (b) within 1 year from when the client should reasonably have known there was cause for a complaint, without taking advice from a third party and; (c) within 6 months of the client receiving a written reply from Abbey Protection Group Limited concerning the complaint. If you also wish to make Abbey Tax aware of the complaint, please contact the Customer Service Manager, Abbey Tax, One Mitchell Court, Castle Mound Way, Rugby CV23 0UY. Tel: 0345 223 2727.

Corporate finance

Our corporate finance team helps the owners and management teams of entrepreneurial businesses to manage the transactions that take their businesses to the next stage.

Our partner-led approach focuses on commercial advice to help our clients create stability and add long term value, whatever the economic climate.
Through experienced people and an extensive network of quality contacts we help our clients to manage all aspects of their business growth and development.

Lead advisory strategic and exit route planning

Our team manages transactions at all stages. We can help our clients with the following.

  • Identifying and targeting the transaction that fits with business aspirations and business strategy.
  • Appointing and co-ordinating a team of advisers, managing transaction costs and expectations.
  • Structuring funding and helping to identify and secure financial backing.
  • Modeling transactions, assessing value and risk, and helping to identify synergy.
  • Negotiating with key stakeholders and counterparties.
  • Preparing businesses for sale or listing.
  • Ensuring the transaction is as tax efficient as possible.

Reporting and transaction support

We can support businesses with the following aspects of the reporting and transaction process.

  • Providing needs-focused due diligence and financial investigations.
  • Acting as reporting accountants.
  • Designing a business plan to meet the needs of both the business and the anticipated stakeholders.
  • Confidentially undertaking business reviews and viability reports for banks and other lenders.
  • Finding suitable non-executive directors

Mergers and acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions only add value if they fit with the strategic plan, are conducted at the right price and are properly integrated into the existing activity. We help our clients to evaluate whether a merger or acquisition would be a good fit for their business. The quality of our advice is based on an open relationship with our clients and an understanding of their aspirations.

Our advice takes account of economies of scale and access to new products and markets, as well as ‘softer’ business issues such as property requirements, personnel, branding, financial systems and change management. The structured due diligence that we provide ensures that our clients have a robust understanding of their target and mitigate the risks associated with its acquisition. We make transactions as tax efficient as possible both for our client and the other party, as many vendors tend to focus on post-tax proceeds.

Business Disposals

For owners looking to sell their business, we can help with every aspect of the process right through to final completion. Our services include the following.

  • Critically appraising and grooming the business prior to a disposal.
  • Identifying and assessing potential purchasers.
  • Valuing the business both intrinsically and to potential purchasers.
  • Preparing sales memoranda and managing a data room.
  • Structuring the transaction to be as tax efficient as possible.
  • Negotiating with the preferred bidder(s).
  • Providing commercial, accounting and legal due diligence to complete the sale.

Raising finance and flotations

As experienced advisers to growing entrepreneurial businesses we understand the importance of a stable funding structure that fits with needs that change. Economic conditions are variable and always present new challenges to developing businesses seeking funding. We work with clients to leverage our extensive network of contacts across leading debt and equity providers. We can help businesses with the following aspects of raising finance.

  • Assessing the form of capital that is best suited to a business.
  • Assisting with flotation requirements.
  • Arranging private and institutional placings of equity capital.
  • Reviewing and arranging credit lines, overdrafts or loan facilities.

Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, on any of the subjects covered above.

Corporate compliance

Keeping on top of legal and regulatory formalities in any business is a formidable task - particularly with the new requirements introduced by the Companies Act 2006. Failure to comply can result in heavy fines, legal fees and bad publicity.

Primary responsibility for complying with all legislation relevant to a company falls to the directors. It is their duty to ensure that their company complies with the law. Now, more than ever before, access to professional advice and assistance can be of considerable benefit to company directors to ensure they comply with their statutory duties.

Our long established Corporate Compliance team offers a wide range of support, often beyond simply the formalities of compliance. The team currently services over 800 companies and is led by a qualified chartered company secretary.

Directors' duties

The conduct expected of all directors of every company, regardless of size, is now laid down in statute and it will be much easier to bring directors to account for failure to comply. The Companies Act 2006 sets out 'directors' statutory duties', which include duties to:

  • act in accordance with the company's constitution
  • promote the success of the company
  • exercise independent judgement
  • exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence
  • avoid conflicts of interest and not accept benefits from third parties.

We are well equipped to help business owners and managers interpret these duties and run their businesses in accordance with the regulations.

Company secretaries

All public limited companies must appoint an appropriately qualified company secretary to oversee the corporate compliance function. Although they are no longer obliged to have one under the Companies Act, many private companies will also wish to appoint a company secretary in this capacity.

At Shipleys, we are able to fulfil the role of company secretary in circumstances where it does not conflict with our other duties - such as auditing the accounts. In all situations, we will be pleased to offer advice and support to the company secretary of client and other companies.


Frequently, one of the first tasks in setting up a new business venture is the formation of a company or LLP. The process of incorporation can be complex and frustrating.

We arrange the incorporation of more than 100 new companies every year, with minimum time and effort required by the client. With electronic communications to Companies House, we can usually incorporate companies within 24 hours of receiving instruction.

Statutory records

Once formed, there is an ongoing requirement to maintain proper records of the directors and ownership of the company. Any changes to the management or structure of the company must be notified to the Registrar of Companies within a prescribed period of time from the change taking place.

Our team at Shipleys can take care of all the company's statutory records and notify the Registrar of any relevant changes.

Annual returns

Each year, every company is required to file a return of all its current directors and list any changes to its shareholders.

We can ensure that these returns are filed promptly and deal with any questions raised in connection with such returns. We can also draft statutory resolutions and any dividend documentation.

Limited Liability Partnerships

Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) are subject to most Companies Act requirements. Although originally intended as business vehicles for professions which have traditionally practised as partnerships - such as accountants, lawyers and surveyors - LLPs are proving increasingly popular for a variety of uses, particularly with respect to tax planning. We can assist in the compliance requirements of LLPs.

Overseas companies

For overseas clients wishing to trade in the UK, we are able to offer all kinds of practical support, from arranging the registration of a branch in the UK, to advising on the tax implications and assisting in the search for premises from which to operate the business.

Registered offices

Our prestigious London address and offices in Godalming may be used as the registered office for any client company or LLP. Official correspondence received at our address is forwarded to an address you nominate, or can be dealt with by us on your behalf.

Company research

We have online access to the statutory information on any company or LLP registered in England and Wales. This includes statutory accounts, together with management and ownership details. This information can be invaluable when seeking out new customers and assessing their creditworthiness. We can also access general market information, which can be of benefit in business planning.

Other services

As well as the new Companies Act rules and regulations, there is an increasingly onerous regulatory regime affecting many areas of business. This requires strict compliance by management, specific to the nature of the business. Employment, health & safety and data protection are just some of the issues for which business managers often need advice and support.

Our team can assist with the formalities associated with these issues, either directly, or through the considerable network of specialists with whom we have close relationships.

Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, on any of the subjects covered above.

Business tax planning

We have an excellent reputation for innovative and reliable tax planning. Businesses can benefit from practical tax planning at all stages of their development.

Starting up in business

The primary aim of every business is to make profits for its owners. This usually means trading profits that can be paid to the shareholders or partners. But sometimes the intention is to build up the business so that it can be sold for a capital gain.

Our tax specialists can help you to identify the best structure for your business, to minimise the tax both on trading profits and on the sale of the whole or part of, the business. The business structures include sole traders, partnerships, limited liability partnerships and limited companies (including plcs). Our advice also covers different classes of shares and profit sharing arrangements.

If you are entering into a business venture with other companies or individuals, we can help you structure the joint venture participation for maximum tax efficiency.

Company shares

If you are involved with a limited company which issues shares to other investors, you may need to ensure that the company meets HM Revenue & Customs' (HMRC) criteria for the investors to be eligible for income tax relief, and that their investments in your business enable them to shelter their capital gains.

Personal services companies

It has been common practice for individuals to offer their services through a limited company (personal services company) or partnership. But these businesses can fall foul of HMRC IR35 and other regulations. We can assess whether you are affected and suggest changes to the contracts or working arrangements to ensure that, wherever possible, they don't apply.

Established businesses

We work very closely with our clients so that once your business is up and running, tax saving opportunities can be identified when they arise, as opposed to merely entering the previous year's results on the tax return and working out when any liability has to be paid.

Payroll and benefits

How staff and stakeholders are paid is very important, so we help you ensure that your strategies are tax efficient. This covers, for example, pension contributions and schemes, share options, allowances, benefits in kind (including cars) and trusts. We can also run or review your PAYE scheme to make sure that it is being operated correctly, and that you are not building up a big liability which comes to light at an HMRC PAYE inspection or failing to take account of new rules such as auto-enrolment.

VAT planning

VAT is, in theory, a cost only to a business which is not VAT registered or is making VAT exempt supplies. If a business can maximise the VAT recovered on its purchases, and minimise the VAT on sales, then this can significantly increase profits.

VAT rules are complicated and there are penalties for failing to comply. An unforeseen liability following a VAT inspection can also have a detrimental effect on cash flow.

There are a number of special VAT schemes which can simplify compliance and may also offer a VAT saving for your business.

We can review your business and its systems to ensure that VAT planning opportunities are considered and the risk of non-compliance is minimised.

Acquisitions and disposals

We have considerable experience of advising on the buying and selling of businesses. This includes not just the sale of a whole business but also the disposal of a division or subsidiary, or the retirement of a partner or shareholder. Larger groups of companies may need to undergo a reconstruction prior to a sale.

We will help you negotiate and agree all terms, including price, the nature of undertakings and guarantees, and the form and timing of the consideration.

It is often advantageous for each party to consider the tax position of the other, since any savings to the other party can be reflected in the price.

For those buying businesses we can carry out due diligence for tax purposes on the proposed purchase, to ensure that no previously unforeseen liabilities come to light after the acquisition.

We specialise in handling complicated purchase and sale issues. Our clients appreciate our hands-on approach and our ability to drive the transaction, if required.

We have an excellent network of contacts in the funding industry and may be able to make an introduction that helps you secure the funding needed for your transaction.

Overseas businesses

Overseas businesses setting up in the UK will need to make some major decisions affecting the form of their presence in the UK, and will also be faced with a potentially unfamiliar compliance procedure.

At the corporate level, businesses will need to choose between options including incorporation of a new UK subsidiary company and registration of a UK branch or agency of the overseas business.

We can help assess whether VAT registration is required or desirable, and deal with the registration application, and help with VAT returns.

Many overseas companies prefer to send existing staff to the UK to help get things up and running and properly integrated. Our expertise covers the structure of remuneration packages and the payroll tax obligations, taking into account the UK rules and working with other AGN International members, the overseas rules as well.

We also advise on other UK personal taxes such as inheritance tax and capital gains tax.

Doing business overseas

Working with our AGN members, we can help you with corporate and personal tax issues to ensure you avoid double taxation where possible, and take advantage of any opportunities to reduce your tax and social security bills. It is also important to make sure your overseas structure is easy to run.

Shipleys' Tax team

Not all tax planning ideas are suitable for everyone, but we believe it is important that our clients are given the opportunity to understand all their options. We ensure that tax planning is integrated with other commercial considerations such as banking and finance facilities.

Our specialist tax planning team comprises private practice experts, as well as former HMRC staff who all take pride in recognising tax-saving opportunities for clients.

Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, on any of the subjects covered above.

Accounting & audit

We provide a range of services to help businesses comply with their statutory requirements.


Every business is required to keep proper records. We can help set up the right system to enable you to keep financial records of your business that give you accurate and useful management information, as well as allowing the statutory accounts to be produced in a timely and cost-effective way. The right system will vary, according to the needs of your business, from a simple handwritten cashbook or a spreadsheet to a fully integrated off-the-peg software package. We can assist you in the preparation of your financial statements to comply with specific legal requirements applicable to your industry or sector.


We audit financial statements to comply with the Companies Act, Charities Act and requirements of regulatory bodies such as the Financial Conduct Authority and Law Society. Constitutional documents or stakeholders may also require an audit to be performed, as may third parties such as potential providers of finance. We also audit a number of pension schemes with over £600 million in assets and more than 10,000 members.

Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, on any of the subjects covered above.

Need more help? Please contact us at or +44 (0)20 7312 0000