Kevin deals with our probate work and here we give information about our costs.
Probate relates to dealing with the estate of someone who has died. Where there is a will this generally this involves four stages. First getting legal authority to deal with the estate – getting a grant of probate and making a tax report. Secondly there is collecting the assets. Thirdly paying the deceased persons debts including tax. Finally distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the persons Will. The process is very similar if someone dies without a Will but then the rules on intestacy dictate who receives the assets.
I can help you as an executor through this difficult process as much or as little as you want. This may be just obtaining the Grant of Probate on your behalf or dealing with the entire process.
The information below will help you understand how we charge for our work in this area. These costs relate to estates entirely in the UK and where there are no disputes.
The cost of the work will vary depending on whether what parts of the process I do and how complicated the estate is. We base costs on how much time a job takes not the value of the estate. For example it will cost less to administer an estate with £1,000,000 in a bank account and one beneficiary than an estate with £50,000 spread over 15 investments with multiple beneficiaries. My hourly rate is £200 per hour and there is no VAT payable. Below are two examples and the range our fees are likely to fall in.
Example 1 – Only obtaining a grant of probate (or letters of administration) in a simple estate–
It is a simple estate with few assets e.g.the deceased solely owns one domestic property, has two bank accounts and a state pension.
As the executor you carry out most of the work. My role is limited to putting the information in the relevant tax and probate forms, arranging for you as the executor to swear the oath, applying for probate and passing on to you the grant of probate. Your task is to supply me with details of the estate. Then when you have the grant you collect in the assets and pay debts including any tax. Finally you distribute the remaining assets in accordance with the will (or laws of intestacy if there is no will).
I anticipate my work will take between 1 and 2 hours work at £200 per hour. Total our fee estimate £200 – £400 (no VAT).
Example 2 – Full estate administration
Where you as an executor ask me to deal fully with the administration of the estate my legal work may normally include
- Providing initial advise
- Collecting details of all the assets,
- Applying for the grant of probate of letters of administration
- Collecting the assets
- Dealing with the payment of tax, liabilities and legacies
- Dealing with HMRC including tax returns
- Preparation of estate account
Again in this example if the estate is simple with few assets e.g. the deceased solely owns one domestic property, has two bank accounts and a state pension then our fees will be at the Lower Range of the estimates below provided
- The will is valid
- There are only 1-2 beneficiaries of full age
- No disputes arise between beneficiaries on division of assets. If disputes arise this is likely to lead to an increase in costs
- No inheritance tax is payable and the executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC
- There are no claims made against the estate
We anticipate the administration of this type of simple estate will take between 3 and 5 hours work at £200 per hour. Total our fee estimate £600 to £1,000 (no VAT).
Where an estate is a little more complicated, for example there may be more assets, additional investments, the terms of the will are so not straightforward, some tax is payable or if the deceased died without a will or multiple beneficiaries. We anticipate the administration of this type of estate will take between 5 and 15 hours work at £200 per hour. Total our fee estimate £1,000 to £3,000 (no VAT).
Some estates can be very complicated for example they may include such things as trusts, multiple and/or under age beneficiaries, multiple or complex investments and tax affairs, specialist high value assets, additional properties, intricate Will provisions and so on. We anticipate the administration of this type of estate will take between 15 and 30 hours or more work at £200 per hour. Total our fee estimate £3,000 to £6,000 or more (no VAT).
Disbursements in addition to the above fees in all examples:
- Probate application fee of £155
- £7 Swearing of the oath (per executor with Will exhibited)
- Office copy grant at £0.50 each
Disbursements are costs which relate to a matter and are payable to a third party, such as court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process but the estate is responsible for the cost.
Potential additional costs and disbursements may include
- Bankruptcy-only Land Charges Department searches
- Post in The London Gazette and in a Local Newspaper – Protects against claims you don’t expect for example from unknown creditors.
- National Will Registry Search
- If there is no will or the estate consists of any share holdings (stocks and bonds) there is likely to be additional costs that could range significantly depending on the estate and how it is to be dealt with. We can give you a more accurate quote once we have more information.
- If any additional copies of the grant are required, there is a cost per copy (1 per asset usually).
- Costs relating to lost share certificates
- Dealing with the sale or transfer of any property in the estate is not included – we don’t deal with conveyancing
- Any tax payable is in addition to our fees and other disbursements.
- Costs can go up or down considerably depending on how much an executor and family members help with the non-legal work such as clearing personal items, collecting post, meeting with estate agents and transferring utilities and so on. These tasks are often necessary and can be time-consuming but do not usually require my legal expertise.
Before doing any work, I will meet you to review the Will and discuss the estate. I will then give you an estimate of our fees so you have a range of costs that we believe we could incur when dealing with the estate. We don’t charge for this initial interview and there is no obligation.
How long will this take?
On average just obtaining probate in estates like those in Example 1 above only take 2-4 weeks (7 to 10 days from the application being lodged) once I have got the information I need from the executor.
The full probate process for a simple estate as in Example 2 above might on average take 3-6 months. Typically, obtaining the grant of probate takes 4 to 10 weeks (including the 7 to 10 days from the application being lodged). Collecting assets then follows, which can take 4 – 10 weeks. Once this has been done, we can distribute the assets which normally takes 2-4 weeks. However many factors can affect this; for example if a property has to be sold this can considerably delay completing the estate.
If you have questions please just ask me.
Kevin Moon – Private Client Law Solicitor – Partner