Tel: 020 8367 3999
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.
Whether the deceased person left a Will or whether there is substantial wealth and property involved, the sense of burden can increase. Where a Will is in existence the Executors may need to apply for the Grant of Probate which will give them the legal right to administer the estate. Where there is no Will in existence, the Will is invalid, or it does not specify an Executor, an Administrator may need to be appointed to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration.
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. We are aware that administering an estate comes at a time of grief and high emotion, and that most people do not know the processes and legal requirements involved.
We will give you a clear time frame of how long probate should take and will keep you and any beneficiaries 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.
We are proud to hold the ISO 9001 Accreditation. This involves the firm undergoing a rigorous audit process every six months which ensures we maintain high levels of client care.
The fees involved in a probate matter can vary and this will depend on the individual circumstances involved.
Our charges are based on how much time is spent on a matter, whereby you will be charged for each hour of work undertaken. The amount of time necessary will depend on the unique circumstances of each matter, but we can provide guidelines on costs so that you know what to expect.
Range of Costs
While every case is different, the administration of any estate generally passes through the following stages:
- Collection of information and notification of third parties:
This stage is sometimes carried out by family or friends of the deceased, and involves obtaining values for the estate assets and liabilities, as well as notifying third parties such as utilities and pension providers.
- Preparation of the tax and probate documents:
If a Grant is required, an inheritance tax return (either an abbreviated version for smaller estates or a longer version for taxable or complex estates) will need to be prepared, and the Oath for Executors (or Administrators) will need to be drafted to apply for the Grant. There may also be additional court documents prepared to address particular issues such missing Executors or unusual Wills.
- Collection of assets and settling of liabilities:
After the Grant is obtained, the deceased’s bank accounts can be closed, financial assets liquidated, shares transferred or sold, and real property transferred or sold. The collected funds are then used to pay any outstanding liabilities of the deceased and ongoing administration costs.
- Distribution of assets and estate finalisation:
After the liabilities have been settled and assets collected in, the terms of the Will can be carried out, which means paying any legacies, distributing funds to beneficiaries, and transferring particular assets into new names.
This stage also involves the preparation of estate accounts and finalising any tax issues such as income tax returns or adjustments to inheritance tax calculations.
Costs for this stage would vary depending on the number of beneficiaries, whether any of those beneficiaries is a minor or lacks mental capacity, how complex the Will is, whether any income or inheritance tax issues remain unresolved, whether there are any disputes or disagreements between the parties, and the length of time which has passed in administering the estate.
Straight forward Grant application only, with no inheritance tax issues, and the estate being below the current nil rate band of £ 325,000 and all information is provided:
£ 875.00 plus VAT (£ 1,050.00 inclusive) plus Probate Court fee.
Grant application only, on the second spouse’s death, involving a claim to transfer the nil rate band, and all information is provided:
£ 1,750.00 - £ 1,950.00 plus VAT ( £ 2,100.00 - £ 2,340.00 inclusive) plus Probate Court fee.
Grant application only, involving a claim to transfer the nil rate band and residence nil rate band, and all information is provided:
£ 1,950.00 - £ 2,250 plus VAT (£ 2,340.00 - £ 2,700.00 inclusive) plus Probate Court fee.
There are a great many variables which affect the total legal costs in the administration of the estate. We are generally able to provide accurate estimates on receiving instructions, as we learn about the complexity of an estate, but we understand that you may want to have a rough estimate of costs before instructing us. To this end, we usually advise that the overall legal costs are likely to come to 2% to 3% of the value of the entire estate. However, the costs for some large but fairly simple estates are likely to be much less, while smaller estate sometimes have complications which mean the legal costs can end up higher.
An illustration of a fairly straightforward estate might be useful in showing how time is spent and costs accrued:
- The deceased & the estate:
- A widow whose spouse died a few years previously, leaving their assets to her;
- The Will leaves her estate to her children with two cash gifts for charities;
- The Will names her two adult children as the Executors;
- The estate contains: a residential property worth £300,000, bank accounts and other assets worth £50,000, and no international assets.
- The administration:
- There is no inheritance tax payable, and only an abbreviated tax return is needed;
- The cash from the bank accounts is used to settle the few liabilities and pay the charitable legacies.
- The house is transferred to the two beneficiaries;
- A Trustee Act notice is placed and estate accounts are prepared, but no income tax returns are necessary.
- The costs:
Legal Fees to obtaining the Grant
Legal Fees for Estate administration
Legal Fee Estimated Total
Office Copies for the Grant of Probate (6 copies)
Commissioners fees for Swearing Oath of probate (2 Executors)
Land Registry Search fee
Bankruptcy Search fee (per beneficiary)
Post in the Local Newspaper & London Gazette
Land Registry assent fee (£500,000 property)
It is important to understand that this illustration is a quite straightforward estate, and various factors could add complications which in turn add to the costs, but the illustration may still be useful in assessing how your circumstances may be more or less complex than this example.
In situations where the partners of this firm have been named as Executors in the Will, or have been instructed in the full administration of the estate, if the net value of the estate exceeds £10,000 a percentage value will be added to the final bill for those assets in sole and joint names with another calculated as follows:-
- Net Estate less residence - 1%
- Residence - 0.5%
Factors which are likely to increase costs:
- Numerous accounts or asset types;
- Assets which are time consuming to value or sell such as company shares, real property, or international assets;
- Numerous beneficiaries (and whether any of those beneficiaries are minors or lack capacity);
- Whether there are any ongoing Trusts or unusual conditions specified in the Will;
- International elements (assets or beneficiaries);
- Inheritance Tax complications such as instalment payments or recalculations;
- Conflicting instructions, disagreements between executors or beneficiaries, or challenges, which may become litigious and will be dealt with by our litigation department.
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as Land Registry fees or court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.
The following disbursements are typically needed as part of the administration of the estate:
Office Copies for the Grant of Probate (per copy)
Commissioners fees for Swearing Oath of probate per executor
Land Registry Search fee (per title)
Bankruptcy Search fee (per beneficiary)
Post in the Local Newspaper & London Gazette (typical)
Land Registry assent fee for a typical property (value dependent)
There are various factors that will affect any Inheritance Tax due on an estate, including the size of the estate and any measures that were put in place by the deceased to limit the estates tax liability.
We do not believe that it would be sensible to attempt to provide at this stage an estimate of any tax that may be payable. We would advise you to look on the HMRC Website to calculate Inheritance Tax which may be due, the calculators can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/hmrc-tools-and-calculators#inheritance-tax-and-bereavement
In the event that there is no Will or the estate consists of any share holdings (Stocks and Bonds), there is likely to be an additional cost that could range significantly depending on the estate and how it is to be handled. We will discuss this with you in detail and advise of any additional fees.
In the event that additional copies of the Grant of Probate are required, these will be charged at £0.50 per copy or per asset.
The cost of selling or transferring a property is not included in this price, if you require this service, please let us know and we will provide you with an estimate in that regard.
Our fees are fixed and include items detailed above, however there may be factors which would typically increase the cost of the fees involved. Where there is likely to be any additional cost, we will make sure you are informed of this at the earliest opportunity and a clear estimate of those extra costs will be provided.
Additional services that will require the assistance of a third party at additional cost include:
- Tax advice
- Valuations for property, savings, investments or other assets
On average, probate for the typical estate will take between 3 – 12 months. Generally, the time taken to obtain the Grant of Probate will take between 3 - 6 months, followed by the collection of assets and distribution of the assets which can take between 4 -12 months. The range takes into account handling everything from straightforward estate through to more complex estates.
With every transaction there are key milestones, which may vary according to individual circumstances. They may be as follows:
- Applying for Grant of Probate
- Obtaining Grant of Probate
- Settling Liabilities
- Collecting funds ready for distribution
- Distributing funds
- Producing Estate accounts