Our Costs for Probate Services and Other Private Client Work
It is up to the Personal Representatives (usually Executors where there is a Will, Administrators where there are no Executors or on an Intestacy) of an Estate to decide if they need legal advice or assistance to help them through the Probate process.
As a Solicitors’ firm we are robustly regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and have an independent complaints facility through the Legal Ombudsman. Other service providers do not have the same degree of regulation, staff training or offer clients the protection that using a firm of Solicitors does.
Solicitors’ Firms are Regulated. Professional. Qualified. Insured.
All our fee earning staff are highly trained Solicitors or Legal Executives and are members of other professional bodies such as STEP (the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) and the Law Society Private Client Section. Our support staff have 38 years of legal experience between them. We offer a personal and friendly service, efficient and cost effective.
The Personal Representatives can choose whether they just want limited assistance or help with all aspects of the Probate process. Our product is good advice- form filling is incidental although part of the process. If you are shopping around- please remember to compare like with like.
IF YOU ONLY WANT US TO OBTAIN THE GRANT OF REPRESENTATION FOR YOU
This service includes:
• Providing you with a dedicated and experienced fee earner solicitor or legal executive to work on your matter
• Identify the personal representatives and beneficiaries
• Identify the type of application you require
• Obtain the relevant documents required to make the application
• Complete the application and the relevant HMRC form from the information you supply
• Draft an oath for swearing
• Make the application to the Probate Court on your behalf
• Obtain and check the grant and pass to you together with any copies you request
This service does not include:
• advice about any possible variations of the dispositions of the estate
• advising you in relation to Capital Gains Tax or the income tax liability of the estate or the personal representatives.
• obtaining the values of the assets or the liabilities of the estate.
• answering any queries HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) may raise regarding the values of the assets declared or any other matters relating to the estate after the Grant has been issued – any queries received will be forwarded to you.
• applying for “Clearance” from HMRC.
• advising you in respect of your responsibilities and liabilities as Personal Representatives, including in relation to claims against the estate and the need for Statutory Advertisements for creditors
• dealing with the distribution of the estate or otherwise seeing to the payment of any debts, liabilities or testamentary expenses other than the payment of inheritance tax (IHT) due on application for the Grant (if any) (but see below).
• dealing with the transfer or encashment of any assets.
• advising you in relation to the payment of any IHT (or interest) which may be due in respect of any lifetime gifts made by the deceased.
IF THIS IS AN EXCEPTED ESTATE- no inheritance tax to pay and a full account is not required for HMRC –
i.e. the deceased made no or a limited amount of chargeable gifts in the last 7 years
the deceased had no assets or property abroad
Nor did they have any interest in any trusts
The total value of the estate before deducting debts is less than £0.5m
We will do this for you at a cost of £650 +VAT
IF IT IS NOT AN EXCEPTED ESTATE then the larger IHT account is usually required and IHT is likely to be payable
OUR COSTS FOR OBTAINING THE GRANT ONLY FOR A NON-EXCEPTED ESTATE ARE £2,500 PLUS VAT
We will advise you regarding the possible sources of funds to pay IHT. If this proves complicated or drawn out, we may charge separately for this item of work
Disbursements (Expenses) in either case will be: Probate Court fee – currently £155 and 50p per copy of the Grant but watch this space for the Government’s plans to massively increase the application fee; Oath fees- currently £7 per Executor, but watch this space for plans to remove the need to swear an oath and instead make a statement of truth for which there would be no separate charge
We can do other estate administration work for you as required at an extra charge based on the hourly rate of the fee earner.
We can provide advice about how Executors protect themselves from personal liability. This often involves advertising in newspapers for creditors to come forward and the advertising costs are additional to our charges. The cost is dependent on the number of words used and are usually in the range of £150 to £250 + VAT
On average it takes 2 weeks for the Probate Court to issue a Grant once the application has been submitted to them.
IF YOU WANT A COMPLETE ADMINISTRATION SERVICE
The costs of this vary from case to case. We will only be able to provide you a reliable estimate once we know more about the estate and what’s needed. Based on our experience, we will then be able to give you an estimate of the time that it would normally take for us to deal with an estate with that number and type of assets, that number of beneficiaries, that number of debts and liabilities. We will discuss our costs with you in an open and clear manner and will confirm them in writing. We will also give you our best estimate of the likely timescale to complete the administration.
If during the course of the administration circumstances change, or other issues come to light, then we may need to revise our estimate and the time scale to deal with the administration in the light of those changes. The type of changes we mean could be:
There are problems or doubts about the validity of the Will and the Probate Court raise enquiries and we may need to obtain further evidence e.g. from abroad or from the witnesses to the Will
There are problems with the valuations of assets- perhaps unusual assets like Overage Agreements, or private company shares, or a flying freehold for example
Beneficiaries are lost or missing, or charities have ceased to exist
There are disputes between beneficiaries on the division of the assets
HMRC raise queries about the value of the assets declared to them or the lifetime giving of the deceased or the calculation of the IHT due
The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) raise an enquiry into the deceased’s assets and eligibility for benefits they received
There are assets abroad (incl. Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Scotland)
There are previously unknown debts and liabilities that have come to light and/or creditors that have to be located
The deceased’s income tax to date of death is not settled or is not straight forward.
Please bear in mind that these sorts of things are unpredictable and uncertain and will not apply to every case.
We arrive at our costs estimate by considering 2 elements-
We will calculate the length of time we think we will spend on the matter at the charging rate for the fee earner. Fee earners’ charging rates range from £175 to £205 + VAT per hour depending on experience and seniority.
We then add a charge based on the value of the estate initially calculated in accordance with the Law Society’s guidelines which, when we are acting for the Executors or Administrators are at the rate of 0.5% of the value of the deceased’s residence and 1% for all other assets.
The combination of the 2 elements of charge generally will not exceed 3% of the gross value of the estate, (plus VAT and disbursements) but this is flexible and truly depends on the value and complexity of the estate.
In some small value estates, the amount of work required will mean that the 3% figure is exceeded and in larger value estates, our costs may be much less than the 3% figure.
Forgive us for choosing the length of our own pieces of string but below are 2 examples of the likely starting point for our costs where we have not been asked to register the death or arrange the funeral ( which we can do if required) and there are no debts or liabilities to pay other than the funeral account, and where we produce full and detailed estate accounts and tax deduction certificates (R185s):
Valid Will Excepted estate 2 executors 1 charitable legacy 2 residuary adult beneficiaries
Assets: deceased’s home and 2 bank accounts containing £50,000 total value of the estate £320,000
We anticipate this may take between 13 and 14 hours of work at £175 ph. Total costs estimated at £4,300 plus VAT and disbursements
Valid Will Taxable estate 2 executors 10 legacies including 2 charities 1 residuary beneficiary
Assets: House (rented out) 4 bank accounts NS&I holdings 3 shareholdings total value £550,000
We anticipate this may take between 24 and 25 hours of work at £205 ph. Total costs estimated at £10,625 plus VAT and disbursements.
Conveyancing costs are in addition- whether it is the sale of a property or the transfer to a beneficiary.
The administration of an intestate estate will generally take more time. Often it is necessary to consult a genealogist to research and construct a family tree. This will add to the costs as well as the time taken to administer the estate.
WILLS and LASTING POWERS OF ATTORNEY (LPA)
All the Wills and the LPAs we prepare are written individually- one size DOES NOT fit all. Please telephone to discuss your needs.
If it is a simple Will – where amongst other criteria- there is no property abroad, there is no business or agricultural property to consider, no trusts are required – we can probably offer a fixed fee service. Simple Wills start at £250 + VAT, £450 + VAT for a pair of mirror Wills. For more complex wills, it will depend on the hourly rate of the fee earner but start from £450 + VAT or £650 + VAT for a pair.
If it is a simple LPA – we can also probably offer you a fixed price service. Our costs start from £450 + VAT for one. Discounts are applied for more than one- £600 + VAT for two, £900 + VAT for four. The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) charge a registration fee, currently £82 per document unless the Donor (maker of the LPA) qualifies for fee exemption or remission, which is means tested and we will discuss this with you.
Our service includes preparation of the LPA, acting as certificate provider when we are allowed, registration with the OPG and providing 2 certified copies for future use.
If it is an LPA for business use, a fixed fee may not apply. Please telephone to discuss your needs.
COURT OF PROTECTION
We charge on an hourly rate for advice and assistance with regard to Deputyship. Please telephone for more information.