Probate

It can be bewildering being left to deal with the legal and tax issues. The procedure can sometimes be long and complex, depending on the nature of the assets. We provide expert advice, in all estate administration and our fees start from £850+VAT.

As with all solicitors, our charges are governed by the Solicitors (Non – Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009. This requires that our fees should be fair and reasonable having regard to all the circumstances of the case. The most important factor taken into consideration is the amount of time we spend in conducting the matter. There are also other factors, such as the complexity and importance of the matter, the value of the estate, the skill involved and the need for urgency; we will notify you in advance if these factors will impact on our fees in your case.

Hourly Rates

Our charges for the time we spend on a matter are calculated using the following hourly rates (assessed in six-minute units):

  • Chartered Legal Executive/Probate Manager/Solicitor – £195 to £255 + VAT
  • Paralegal/Trainee/Probate Executive: £165 + VAT

VAT and disbursements are explained in more detail below.

We do not make any additional charges in cases where we are appointed as executors of the deceased will. As our charges are based on the time we spend on the matter, our fees can sometimes actually be reduced when we are solely appointed as executors because less time is spent in correspondence and phone calls with external parties and all paperwork can be completed and signed in house.

If we are appointed as sole executors, we will always agree our charging basis with the residuary beneficiaries of the will who will have the right to ask the Legal Ombudsman to investigate if they believe that we have charged too much.

In cases where we are appointed as executors jointly with third parties our charges will have to be approved by them and they will have the same right to ask the Legal Ombudsman to get involved in the very unlikely event of a dispute.

Price ranges

At the beginning of your matter, we will give you an estimate of our likely charges for the work we are being asked to undertake. This can be quite difficult because there are a host of variables which can affect this time we have to spend on the matter. As the estate progresses, it is sometimes necessary to revise our estimate, but we will always agree any increase with the executors before embarking on unanticipated work.

As a general guide, and subject to the complication factors listed below, our fees tend to fall within the following brackets:

  • Full service: estate valued below the Inheritance Tax threshold (currently £325,000): £2,000 to £8,000 + VAT & disbursements
  • Full service: estate valued above the Inheritance Tax threshold: £4,000 to £25,000 + VAT & disbursements
  • Grant only service: estate valued below the Inheritance Tax threshold: £850 to £1,200 + VAT & disbursements
  • Grant only service: estate valued above the Inheritance Tax threshold: £1,200 to £3,000 + VAT & disbursements

Services not covered

These price ranges are provided on the basis that we are not required to provide the following services which would be charged additionally and for which we would provide a separate estimate:

  • Registering the deceased’s death and/or arranging the funeral
  • Conveyancing on the sale or transfer of the deceased’s property
  • Tracking down a missing will or missing executors
  • Disputes over the validity of the will
  • Claims under the inheritance Act by persons who maintains they have not been provided for
  • Tax returns of income and gains both before and after the deceased’s death
  • Setting up or closing trusts in which the deceased had an interest, or which are contained in the deceased’s will
  • Tax planning arrangements in connection with the estate of any predeceased spouse
  • Deeds of variation and other IHT planning for beneficiaries
  • Handling insolvent estates

Complicating factors

The price ranges referred to above are quite broad because of the widely differing issues which can arise during the administration of an estate and which can impact on the time we spend on the matter. These include:

  • A large number of beneficiaries of the estate or difficulties with tracing beneficiaries or in dealing with beneficiaries who are under age.
  • A large number of assets in the estate (e.g. numerous shareholdings or extensive collections of chattels)
  • Foreign assets or assets which are difficult to identify, such as old shareholdings, or assets which are difficult to value such as private company shares or certain chattels
  • Trusts of life assurance policies and complex pension arrangements
  • Assets owned jointly with others where the history of the joint ownership has to be investigated
  • The deceased had interests in family trusts or in another estate which impact on the Inheritance Tax (IHT) position
  • Arranging clearance of the deceased’s home
  • Monitoring and insuring unoccupied property
  • Disputes with third parties over sums due to or from the estate, e.g. claims by HMRC for unpaid tax or the DWP for over claimed benefits
  • A long form HMRC IHT account (IHT400) is required
  • Claims are required for the IHT residence nil rate band and/or the transferable IHT nil rate band from the estate of a deceased spouse and/or for the transferable IHT residence nil rate band from the estate of a deceased spouse
  • There are problems identifying the amount and timing of lifetime gifts and gifts in which the deceased has reserved a benefit for IHT purposes
  • Claiming IHT loss relief on sales of assets at less than probate value
  • A bank loan is required to fund the estate’s IHT liability
  • There are doubts over the deceased’s domicile
  • Disagreement arise between beneficiaries over the sale or distribution of chattels or other assets within the estate
  • There are problems selling the deceased’s home or other assets
  • Additional steps are required to lessen the impact of Capital Gains Tax on the sale of assets in the estate

If a number of these complicating factors are present it is possible that our fees will exceed the higher end of the range referred to above. We will always, of course, provide an estimate for your matter before embarking on any work.

VAT and disbursements

VAT will be added to our fees at 20%. For example, a fee of £7,000 will attract a VAT liability of £1,400

The following disbursements can arise:

  • Probate Registry application fee of £155 (no fee for estates under £5,000)
  • 50p for each official copy of the grant of representation
  • £7 per executor for swearing the oath plus £2 per codicil (if any)
  • Bankruptcy – only Land Charges Department searches (£2 per beneficiary)
  • £3.60 for official copy of a Land Registry title
  • Probate valuation fees for properties and household effects, say £500

We will obtain your approval before incurring any other disbursements in excess of £150 or more.

Timescale

With regard to the length of time the administration of the estate takes, in our experience it takes approximately 3 to 4 months to obtain a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration; however this is always dependent on the ability to locate assets.  assets in foreign jurisdictions or multiple assets can take longer.

With regard to the rest of the administration of the estate, after the Grant of Probate has been obtained, the time required to collect in all the assets of the estate and distribute the monies to the beneficiaries (including dealing with tax affairs) and the preparation of estate accounts are dependent upon a different number of factors, including:

  • Assets in foreign jurisdictions
  • Responses from third parties (including HMRC)
  • Complexity of tax affairs
  • Asset disputes
  • Will disputes
  • Tracing beneficiaries

On average you can expect the administration of an estate to conclude in between 6 and 12 months from the date of death (subject to the factors above).  Our team is dedicated to administering the estate as swift as practicable and will assist in making interim distributions wherever appropriate; we know it is important that administration be concluded as quickly as possible.

If you wish to know more, please contact our team today.