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Information relating to our Probate fees and services

The death of someone close is likely to be a difficult and distressing time and as well as coming to terms with the loss, there are a number of practical and legal matters which need to be addressed. Initially it is a question of registering the death and making the funeral arrangements and thereafter there is the administration of the estate to consider. Often it will be necessary for the appointed executors to obtain a Grant of Probate in order to deal with the assets in the estate and this is an area where we can help.

We hope you find the information below helpful. If there are any aspects you would like to discuss, please do get in touch.


Our Team

Our Private Wealth Team has a great deal of experience of dealing with a wide variety of estates, from small straightforward estates to complex high-value estates involving agricultural property, business property, foreign assets and complex claims for Inheritance Tax reliefs. The Solicitors in the Team specialise in the administration of estates and are all either members of, or are supervised by members of, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). 

The Private Wealth Team incorporates our Trusts and Tax Team who are able to assist with the tax and accounting aspects of an estate and our Contentious Trusts and Probate Team who are able to advise on any contentious aspects which might arise.


To view members of our  team please view the Meet The Team section of our Private Wealth page. 


How we calculate our charges for dealing with an estate

Our charges are calculated solely on the basis of the time we spend dealing with the administration of the estate. This is the case whether we  act for executors named in the Will (usually relatives or close friends of the person who died) or we are the appointed executors. We do not add an extra ‘value element’ based on a percentage of the value of the estate, as some firms do, nor do we charge a fixed fee.

The hourly rates of those involved vary, depending on the level of experience and seniority. The current hourly rates for those in our Private Wealth Team are as follows:

Partners

£315 to £375 plus vat

Solicitors (dependent on level and seniority)    

£155 to £300 plus vat

Trainee Solicitors    

£115 to £140 plus vat

Trust Team (dependent on level and seniority)

£80 to £240 plus vat  

                                                                                                       

These rates are subject to VAT, currently at 20%. Our hourly rates are reviewed annually.

With a large, specialist Private Wealth Team, we can ensure that estates are dealt with by those at the right level, with appropriate supervision.

What are the likely fees for administering an estate?

The overall fees will depend on the time spent and this, in turn, will depend to a large degree on the terms of the Will and the composition, value and complexity of the estate.  It is therefore difficult to give an indication of our fees without knowledge of the particular circumstances.

When instructed to deal with an estate, we give an estimate of our fees at the outset, based on our discussions with the executors and consideration of the relevant paperwork. We keep this estimate under review as the estate progresses and revise it if necessary.

An indication of our fees for dealing with a straightforward estate

As a general guide, our fees for administering a straightforward estate are likely to be within the following range:

£3,000 to £8,000 plus vat at 20% (which is £3,600 to £9,600 including vat)

What is regarded as a straightforward estate will vary. This indication of fees assumes that:

  • There is a professionally drawn Will which appoints executors who are willing to act and names beneficiaries whose whereabouts are known.
  • All assets are in this country and there are no disputes.
  • No Inheritance Tax is payable, there are no lifetime gifts to report and only a short form Inheritance Tax Return is required.
  • The person who died was not a beneficiary of a trust and there are no trusts in the Will.
  • The assets are straightforward in nature and limited in number (for example, there is a property, a few bank and building society accounts and premium bonds)
  • The only legacies are of cash and personal effects and are limited in number.
  • There are no more than 3 residuary beneficiaries (those who benefit from the balance in the estate after the payment of expenses and legacies).

If there are just one or two bank/building society accounts, one or two legacies and one residuary beneficiary, our fees are likely to be at or near the lower end of this range. A greater number of assets, legacies or residuary beneficiaries will increase the time spent and consequently the fees. There may also be other factors which increase the time spent and therefore the fees.

The indication of fees given above for a straightforward estate does not include:

  • our fees in respect of the sale or transfer of the property in the estate;         
  • work in respect of the deceased’s pre-death tax affairs;
  • dealing with a claim by the DWP for overpaid benefits.

Executors can help to limit fees, for example by sorting through the paperwork themselves before the initial meeting and handing over only paperwork of relevance; by dealing with practical matters such as utility bills and by communicating well with any co-executors to avoid duplication of queries and requests.

Executors may instruct us to obtain the Grant of Probate only. In this case, our fees would be lower than if we were to deal with the entire estate.

Our fees for dealing with a more complex estate, for example where a full Inheritance Tax Account is required, are likely to be higher than the upper end of the range given above and in many cases will be considerably higher, to reflect the particular complexities. We are happy to give a considered estimate based on the specific circumstances of an estate.

Expenses (known as ‘disbursements’)

In addition to our fees, expenses (known as ‘disbursements’) will be payable to third parties.

Usual disbursements are:

Probate Application fee

£155 (where application made by Solicitors)

Additional copies of the Grant

£0.50 (one needed for each asset usually)

Fee for swearing the Oath

£7 (usual fee – applicable to each executor)

Bankruptcy searches  

£2 (for each beneficiary searched against)

Trustee Act Notices

£200 (estimated) plus vat at 20%

                                                        

If valuations are required (eg of property, land or shares) valuation fees will be payable to the Valuer.

Inheritance Tax may be payable in relation to the estate. Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax may, in certain circumstances, also become payable.

What are the key stages in the administration of an estate?

Again this will depend on the particular estate, but the key stages common to most straightforward estates where no Inheritance Tax is payable are set out below.

  • Meeting with the executors to discuss the terms of the Will, the composition of the estate and the way forward. Collecting the relevant paperwork from the executors.
  • Obtaining valuations of the assets of the estate at the date of death.
  • Writing to the beneficiaries named in the Will.
  • On receipt of all valuations, preparing HMRC Return of Estate Information form and the Oath for Executors and forwarding to the executors in draft.
  • Meeting with the executors for the signing of the Probate papers and making the application for the Grant of Probate.
  • Following the issue of the Grant of Probate, encashing (or transferring) the assets in the estate and collecting in the money due to the estate.
  • Settling outstanding liabilities.
  • Paying cash legacies and making interim distributions to the residuary beneficiaries.
  • Preparing Estate Accounts, obtaining the approval of the executors to the Accounts and then making the final distributions to the residuary beneficiaries.

In more complex estates, there will be various other aspects such as arranging a valuation of a farming business or private company shareholding, dealing with foreign lawyers in relation to assets abroad, completing the long form Inheritance Tax Account (IHT400), arranging the payment of Inheritance Tax, dealing with an investment portfolio, keeping accounting records, dealing with queries raised by HMRC, obtaining Inheritance Tax clearance, submitting administration period tax returns and obtaining Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax clearance.

How long will the administration of a straightforward estate take?

Based on experience, a straightforward estate is likely to take between 6 and 12 months to administer. It usually takes 3 to 4 months to obtain the Grant of Probate and several months thereafter to finalise all aspects of the estate. It can sometimes take longer, for example where there is a property in the estate which takes some time to sell.

A more complex estate can take considerably longer to administer, sometimes extending to years, particularly if Inheritance Tax is payable or claims for agricultural property relief or business property relief have been made. It can take HMRC some months to consider the detail of the estate once the Inheritance Tax Account has been submitted and they may then choose to instruct their own Valuer and raise issues on valuations returned or reliefs claimed.

We understand that a prolonged administration can be distressing. Our aim is always to deal with the estate in a timely and efficient way, with a view to concluding all aspects at the earliest opportunity.

We give executors an estimate of the timescale at the outset and keep this under review as the administration of the estate progresses.

Contacting Us

If you would like to discuss our Probate services or fees, please contact one of the lawyers in our Private Wealth Team who will be pleased to assist.

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