Probate

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Our probate solicitors offer an exceptional service, with expertise in handling large estates and building long-term, trusted relationships with our clients.

Probate & Estate Administration Charges

Timescales/Key Dates

Due to the variations between different estates, there are no fixed timescales for how long it takes to deal with the administration. However, for an estate where it is not necessary to file an inheritance tax account and there are no other complicating factors, from the date that we receive all the paperwork, we expect to be in a position to draft the probate papers in two to eight weeks, depending on the particular circumstances of the estate.

In most estates we can file the application with the Probate Registry online, and in these estates, the Registry’s timescales remain erratic. It most straightforward cases, we would expect to receive the grant within 3 to 6 weeks. However, the Registry issues a default processing date of 16 weeks!

In some estates, we are required to file the application by post. In these estates, we would expect to receive the grant within 16 to 20 weeks.

Once the Grant of Probate has been issued, most assets can be collected in or transferred to the beneficiaries within a further six to eight weeks. If the executors are selling a property then the length of time taken to complete a sale will be one of the main determining factors in how long it takes to complete the administration.

The other “unknown factor” is how long HM Revenue & Customs will take to respond to correspondence and in particular, enable the executors to settle any tax liabilities arising during the administration period of the estate.

For more complicated estates, these timescales will naturally be longer. Executors should be mindful that if an estate is subject to inheritance tax, there is a requirement to file the inheritance tax account within twelve months of the date of death. Interest on unpaid inheritance tax starts to accrue after the end of the sixth month following the date of death.

Executors may decide to advertise for creditors who are then given a period of two months to notify the executors of outstanding debts. We can advise whether these notices should be placed.

Executors should also be aware that there is a period of six months, starting from the date that the Grant of Probate is issued, when claims may be made against an estate. We can advise whether the executors should defer distributing the estate until after this period has expired.

Charging Rates

The charges for dealing with the administration of an estate are based on the amount of time spent working on the file at our hourly charging rates. These are as follows:

Name Position Held Solicitor Hourly Rate No of years’ experience
James Skellorn Consultant Yes £340 41
Nick Palmer Member Yes £325 25
Angela Ireland Chartered Legal Executive No £265 21
Lindsey Ottywill Senior Associate Yes £275 17
Thomas Woodlee Associate Yes £235 5
Kiri Nicholls Senior Associate & Chartered Legal Executive No £285 18
Katrina Drake Solicitor Yes £210 6
Kamila Jaskula Private Client Executive No £200 1
Erol Magante Tax Executive No £160 1

 

Most of the probate work is undertaken by Lindsey Ottywill and Angela Ireland. All fees are subject to VAT at 20%.

Unlike many other firms, our charges are limited to the time spent working on the matter and we do not make an additional charge of a percentage value of the estate.

All estates are different and the fees depend on several factors, in particular:

  • whether you ask us to deal with the whole of the administration or limited aspects only;
  • the terms of the Will;
  • the number and complexity of the assets; and
  • whether the estate is subject to inheritance tax.

We offer a fixed fee consultation with you to:

  • Explain the steps involved in administering an estate
  • Go through your rights, duties and any potential liabilities
  • Identify tax-saving and other estate planning opportunities
  • Spot potential complications

Cost is £320 + VAT (for one meeting and does not extend to written advice).

Our fees start from our £1,500 + VAT fixed fee service (see below) and there is no upper limit. However, we are always happy to provide a written estimate of fees after reviewing the paperwork but the following examples may be a helpful guide.

We offer a fixed fee of £1,500 + VAT for obtaining the grant of probate for you where an Inheritance Tax account does not need to be filed and you provide us with all the financial information to include in the probate application.

We also offer a fixed fee of £2,500 plus VAT for obtaining the Grant of Probate for you where an inheritance tax account does need to be filed but no inheritance tax is payable and you provide us with all the financial information to include in the probate application. Any additional work in relation to matters such as reviewing valuations and advising on taxation issues will be charged at the appropriate hourly rates.

Example 1

A straightforward Will, made by a widow, appointing her children as executors. Cash legacies to grandchildren and residuary estate divided equally between children.

Assets are a property worth £400,000 plus bank accounts, shares, National Savings Investments and other assets worth £300,000.

The deceased inherited her late husband’s estate so the executors can claim four inheritance tax allowances totalling £1,000,000, as a result of which no inheritance tax is payable.

Work involved in ascertaining all the assets and liabilities of the estate, valuations at the date of death, completion and filing of probate papers, collecting in or transferring the assets, payment of bills, checking the income tax position to the date of death, dealing with income tax in the estate administration period, preparation of estate accounts and distributions to the beneficiaries.

Estimate of fees £12,500 plus VAT.

Example 2

A straightforward Will, made by a widow, appointing her children as executors and dividing the residuary estate equally between them.

Assets are a property worth £600,000 plus investments, bank accounts, policies and other assets worth £800,000.

Gifts had been made to family members in the last seven years which need to be reported to HM Revenue & Customs.

All the work detailed in example 1, plus completion of full inheritance tax account, calculation of inheritance tax, advising on raising funds to pay the tax before probate is granted, all related correspondence and negotiations with HM Revenue & Customs, advising on mitigation of capital gains tax liabilities arising on the disposal of assets in the estate administration period and obtaining all tax clearances.

Estimate of fees of £25,000 plus VAT.

Disbursements

Probate Court fees are £300, plus £1.50 per additional sealed office copy of the probate required.

The other most common costs are tax (inheritance tax, income tax, capital gains tax), valuation fees, land registry fees and the costs of statutory adverts (to protect executors against future claims by creditors).

Exclusions

Property work is charged separately and if there is a house in the estate to be sold, we will provide a quote for the conveyancing work and disbursements.

The fees for dealing with more complicated estates may be higher. Examples are where there is a dispute, the assets are worth significantly more, the estate includes a business or private company shares or there are assets overseas.