Thank you for looking at our probate services. Coping with the death of a person can bring a mixture of emotions and the legal side of dealing with a person’s death can often be overwhelming and confusing. Having compassionate, experienced legal advice can make this difficult situation much easier on you and your loved ones especially where the sense of burden can sometimes feel greater still where children or vulnerable adults are involved or there is substantial wealth and property to deal with.
Where a Will is in existence it is the named Executors who apply for the grant of probate, allowing them to administer (sort out) the estate. Where there is no Will in existence, the Will is invalid, or it does not specify an Executor, the “Intestacy Rules” dictate who can administer the Estate.
We have an experienced team who can assist you with every aspect of the probate process, reducing the administrative burden and advising sensitively on key decisions which need to be made when managing an estate.
So far as possible we will give you a clear time frame of how long “probate” should take and will keep you advised throughout.
You will have the confidence that you are our priority, with our aim being that any member of the team is available to speak with you when you need some clarity and certainty at any stage in the process. We feel this provides reassurance and gives you an outlet for any concerns that you may have. Fees are generally paid out of the estate, so there may not be a need for you to fund the administration.
Charges for administering an Estate can vary depending on many factors, including but not limited to, whether there is a Will or not, the number, value, and type of assets or property (including farm land or businesses) to be dealt with, whether there is an urgent time scale, whether Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax and/or Inheritance Tax has to be paid by the Estate and whether lifetime Income Tax affairs need to be finalised.
This note is intended to provide prospective clients browsing our website with an indication as to the likely scale of costs which may be involved in our obtaining a Grant of Probate and then administrating the Estate.
In addition we to this note we also offer a no obligation (meaning no charge) appointment to go through the paperwork relating to your particular case so as to work out what our likely charges would be in your case.
Fees for Administering a deceased’s persons Estate, also known as “Probate” where the assets are in the UK and the Will/Estate is not contested
If the Estate contains bank accounts, no more than one property and the simpler Inheritance Tax forms (numbered IHT205 + IHT217) can be completed, then our fees normally range from £2000+VAT to £3500+VAT. Where there are shares or share investments then extra work and therefore expense will be involved, and can add a further £1,500+VAT to £3,000+VAT to the fee referred to above.
If there are a number of investments and assets to be sorted and the much more comprehensive and complicated Inheritance Tax forms (number IHT400) have to be completed then our fees normally range from £6,000+VAT to £12,000+VAT.
If the Estate is complex with liabilities for Inheritance, Capital Gains or Income Tax to be paid and a substantial number or value of assets to be administered then our fees are typically between £12,000+VAT and £25,000+VAT though in some exceptional cases can be significantly more, depending on the work required and time taken.
We always offer you the option of carrying out as much of the work as you wish, as this may reduce our charges. We can also carry out piecemeal work and advice such as just obtaining the Court document called Grant of Representation also colloquially known as “Probate” leaving you to collect in the assets by yourself and this can also mean lower fees.
Our fee estimates are based on our estimate of the time it will be necessary to spend in dealing with the Estate having regard to the hourly rate of the lawyer dealing with it.
If your case is being dealt with by a Partner or, alternatively, another very senior and experienced lawyer who has specialised in Probate for at least eight years the hourly rate will be £275 plus VAT. If however the lawyer dealing with your case has been practising for less than eight years but for more than four years the applicable hourly rate will be £250 plus VAT. A lawyer with less than four years post qualification experience will charge £225 plus VAT per hour. We will always inform you at the outset of the experience and hourly rate of the lawyer with primary responsibility for your case.
Disbursements not included in this fee:
Probate application fee of £155+£1.50 per copy.
Bankruptcy-only Land Charges Department searches (£2 per beneficiary/name)
Checking the Land Registry’s computerised “deed” service £6 per property or plot of land
£200 to £300 Statutory Adverts in The London Gazette and a Local Newspaper – These help to protect against unexpected creditors.
Searching for a missing Will £120
Searching for unclaimed or missing assets £186
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process
Likely timescale for administering an Estate
Providing an accurate timescale at the outset of any probate matter is very difficult as it depends on various factors ( some of which are outside our control) including:
- The assets in the Estate;
- How quickly third parties (banks, financial institutions, the Probate Court and HMRC) take to reply;
- Limitation dates that protect the Executor from unknown claims; and
- Whether we or you, the client, are carrying out the work. Many families want to be involved in the correspondence to save fees but this does not always save time.
Some Estates, especially those with no land or property, can be finalised in 6 months, but on average most Estates take 6 months to 1 year. Especially complex Estates (meaning high value, with numerous or complex assets (including business interests) or Tax and trust complications or perhaps those involving disputes can take years to complete.
Stages of an Administration
- We have set out below the key steps that willneed to be carried out in administrating an Estate:
- Collecting details of all assets and debts of the deceased, no matter how small;
- Valuing all assets and debts as at the date of death;
- Based on the information obtain decide whether the full (form number IHT400) or simple (form number IHT205) Inheritance tax forms need to be completed and submitted to the HMRC Inheritance Tax;
- If necessary, complete and submit full Inheritance Tax forms and pay any Inheritance Tax due. If Inheritance Tax is paid six months after the month of death then interest is payable to the HMRC Inheritance Tax on the unpaid sums. The interest HMRC charges is currently 2.6% per annum;
- If the full Inheritance Tax forms are submitted then you must wait the return of a stamped Inheritance Tax form back from the HMRC Inheritance Tax;
- Complete and “swear” the Oath for Executors/Administrators and make the application to the Probate Court for the Grant of Representation;
- Receive Grant of Representation;
- Send the Grant of Representation to the financial institutions to collect in the assets and sell/transfer any property;
- Pay all debts and taxes;
- Ensure no claims on the Estate are to be made;
- Distribute any specific gifts of items and any specific money gifts;
- Ensure all Inheritance tax matters finalised;
- Ensure all lifetime and post death Income tax matters completed;
- Prepare final Estate Accounts for approval by the Residuary Beneficiaries
- Distribute monies to the Residuary Beneficiaries.
- As you can see there are a number of steps that must be completed. During nearly all of the above stages you/or we will be relying on third parties to provide the information requested and we hope that they reply quickly. However, this is not always the case and the administration of the Estate can be delayed by matters out of your/our control. We will chase tardy responses, but we will always weigh chasing letters or calls against the increased costs to the Estate of doing so.
- WE find the best way to approach time estimates is to provide them stage by stage and inform you regularly of how long the next stage will take.”
- There is no legal obligation for a Personal Representative (this phrase covers Executors and Administrators) to distribute the Estate to beneficiaries before the expiry of one year from the date of death. If any beneficiary entitled to a specific sum is paid after this 12 month period then interest will need to be paid on the legacy;
The work we carry out for you.
When we meet we will agree how many of the above steps you wish for us to undertake, but the above examples of cost ranges are based on us carrying out all of the tasks.