Wills, Trusts & Probate

Charges

Basis of charging for uncontested Estates where all assets are in the UK

Generally, we do not charge a fixed fee for Estate Administration work. We charge on a “time spent” basis calculated by an hourly rate. Our quote will take in to account the estimated size and the complexity of the estate and the amount of time which we anticipate it will take to complete the necessary work. The exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter and this way our clients are only charged for the amount of time and work which is required. If unforeseen work or complexities arise which will result in extra work being needed, we would charge for such additional work on a time spent basis and advise our client of the additional likely cost.

Generally, our range of fees for dealing with the full administration of a relatively simple estate, as shown in the example below, would be between £1800 - £3500 plus VAT and plus any payments we make on your behalf (disbursements).

To give you a better indication of our costs we have set out below an example estate;

Example Estate of Mrs Smith (widowed)

Mrs Smith’s Will provides the following;

For two of her three children to be her executors

£500 legacy to the RSPCA
£1000 legacy to each of her four grandchildren
The residue of her estate to her three children equally

(All beneficiaries are alive, live in the UK and are at least 18)

Assets include:

House (owned by her solely) £150,000
Two bank accounts both with the same bank totalling £55,000
NS&I Premium Bonds £10,000

Liabilities

Funeral £3500

Based on the above example, we would estimate that it would take between 15 - 17 hours of work to deal with the estate administration process (please note that this excludes any conveyancing work required to deal with a sale/assent of the property). On this basis our fees for a Senior Solicitor (with an hourly charge rate of £195 per hour plus VAT) to undertake the necessary work would be approximately £2900 - £3300 plus VAT and disbursements.

What does this fee cover?

Our fees specified above are designed to reflect the average time it takes to administer an Estate and do not take account of unexpected difficulties which may arise. Obtaining a Grant of Representation and distributing assets is not always straightforward, but in general, this is what we will do during a typical transaction:

  • Take your detailed instructions and provide initial advice.
  • Provide you with a dedicated and experienced private client adviser to work on your matter.
  • Identify the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries.
  • Accurately identify the type of Grant application you will require.
  • Obtain the relevant financial information required to make the application.
  • Prepare the relevant tax forms.
  • Draft the appropriately worded Oath to be sworn by the executor(s) or administrator(s).
  • Make the application to the Probate Registry on your behalf.
  • Obtain the Grant of Representation.
  • Collect/transfer all assets in the estate (as required) and settle any outstanding liabilities and estate administration expenses and disbursements.
  • Conduct bankruptcy searches on all beneficiaries of the estate.
  • Distribute the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will.

*Simple estates

To consider an estate ‘simple’ we assume that the Estate is one where:

  • There is a Will.
  • There is no more than one domestic/residential property.
  • All assets are in the UK.
  • There are no more than three separate bank or building society accounts.
  • There are no shareholdings or investments bonds.
  •  There are no more than five legacies and four residuary beneficiaries included in the Will.
  • There are no missing or untraceable beneficiaries.
  • All beneficiaries are all adults and have attained the age contingency specified in the Will (if applicable).
  • There are no disputes between any parties on the division of assets or the terms of the Will or any other estate related matter (any such disputes would undoubtedly impact on the complexity of the estate and the overall time required to administer it and would therefore increase costs substantially).
  • The estate is not liable for the payment of Inheritance Tax or Capital Gains Tax.
  • The estate does not need to make use of the Residence Nil Rate Band.
  • The deceased did not make gifts in the seven years leading up to their death in excess of £150,000.
  • The executors and administrators agree to act an are UK based.

More complex estates

Not all estates are straightforward and there may be additional complexities to deal with you during an estate administration process. We have set out below examples of estates which would not be considered to be simple. Our fees for dealing with an estate involving any of the following factors would need to be discussed thoroughly with you in order for us to provide you with an accurate indication of overall costs.

  • If there is no Will (Intestacy) or the Will is only partially valid (partial Intestacy) or there is a "home-made" Will.
  • Shareholdings (stocks and bonds) – our costs for attending to these will depend on the number of shares or investments, the number of holdings/financial institutions to be dealt with, the location of the shares/investments (UK or overseas) and ultimately the intention regarding these i.e. to be transferred or sold.
  • Multiple beneficiaries (in excess of those specified above) or overseas beneficiaries.
  • Estates which may be liable for Inheritance Tax and or Capital Gains Tax.
  • Estates which need to make use of available allowances and reliefs (for example the Nil Rate.
  • Band and Residence Nil Rate Band) and which therefore require more complex tax paperwork to be completed for HMRC (IHT400).
  • Estates which need to claim an unused transferable Nil Rate Band or unused transferable Residence Nil Rate Band.
  • Estates which are or are likely to become contentious or which may involve claims being made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Additional/external expenses known as ‘disbursements’

Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to others, such as court fees. Where possible we handle the payment of them on your behalf from the estate funds to ensure a smoother process. When estate funds are not immediately available, where appropriate, we would request upfront payment of disbursements before they are incurred.

Usual disbursements in an estate administration may include the following:

Probate Registry Court fee *
£155 plus 50p for every additional copy of the Grant required i.e. three copies of the Grant would be £156.50.

Swearing of the oath*
£5 per person per oath and £2 per exhibit (i.e. £7 per executor when there is a Will and £5 per administrator where there is no Will).

Bankruptcy-only Land Charges Department searches
£2 per name being searches against – please note that this fee applies to beneficiaries in the UK only.

Bankruptcy searches for overseas beneficiaries
Often between £50 - £150 per person depending on the provider and the location of the beneficiary.

Statutory notices placed in The London Gazette and local newspaper (if required)
Approximately £70 - £90 per notice subject to the provider and local newspaper required.

Other
Barrister's fees (i.e. if the estate is contested or challenged in some way and it becomes necessary to seek the opinion of or assistance from a barrister). Quotes for Barrister's fees would be obtained on a case by case basis and in any event would not be dealt with as part of an ordinary uncontested estate administration process.  VAT would also be payable at the prevailing rate.

Additional fees in an estate administration will include the following:

File scanning administration fee* 

£20 plus VAT

Anti-money launderings/ID Searches*

£10 plus VAT per person

How long will obtaining Probate and administering the Estate take?

The time taken from instructing us to obtain a Grant to completion of the distribution of the Estate will depend on numerous factors. On average, a relatively simple estate is likely to be dealt with within 6 -12 months.

Typically, it takes 2- 3 weeks to receive the Grant of Representation from the Probate Registry once the application has been submitted. If the estate is liable for Inheritance Tax or more lengthy Inheritance Tax paperwork has had to be submitted to HMRC, it can often take between 4 – 6 weeks to obtain the Grant following submission of the application.

We will provide you with an individual indication of likely timescales after we have met with you and discussed the estate. However, there can be multiple reasons beyond our control might may impact on the overall time which it will take to administer an estate.

‘Grant only’ work

Sometimes clients would like us to deal with the formal process of making the application for the Grant of Representation but do not require any further assistance from us to deal with the collection of the assets or distribution of the estate. We refer to this type of work as ‘Grant only’.

When we act for clients on a ‘Grant only’ basis, we prepare the application for the Grant based on the financial information our clients have provided to us personally. We will not undertake any work to determine or verify the value of the assets and liabilities of the estate and therefore it is particularly important that our clients are confident that the information which they are providing is true and correct. We prepare the necessary HMRC forms and Oath for our clients and make the application for the Grant on their behalf after having gone through and explained the paperwork, in person, and arranged for them to sign and in the case of the Oath, be sworn to the same.

Once the Grant of Representation had been received and checked, this will be released to the client so that they can continue with the remainder of the estate administration process themselves.

When conducting work on a grant only basis, we will not provide clients with any assistance or advice regarding tax or any other matter relating to the estate administration unless specific advice is sought regarding this. Any work undertaken in addition to the ‘Grant only’ will be charged for on a “time spent” basis as above.

Charges:

Our fees for dealing with a ‘Grant only’ application are charged on a fixed fee basis and range from £650 – £2000 plus VAT dependent upon the specific circumstances of the estate.

In addition to our fees the disbursements marked * above will also be payable.

Our team can provide clients with a specific fixed fee quote for acting on a ‘Grant only’ once information relating to the complexity and value of the estate has been provided. In addition to our fees, the disbursements marked above * will also be payable.

Please note that some cases are so complicated that a ‘Grant only’ application is not viable.

Who will be doing my work? 

Meet our Probate team

Our dedicated Private client team has many years of collective experience in delivering high quality work in all private client matters. One of the following team members will be working on your matter:

John Benjamin Cooper - Solicitor and Head of Department £225 p/h
Anna Drapan - Associate Solicitor £210 p/h
Charlene Vilia - Senior Solicitor £195 p/h
Elizabeth Wood - Tax Advisor £195 p/h
Lucy Cortis - Solicitor £165 p/h
Kay Johnston - Private Client Advisor £165 p/h
Rachael Wilkinson - Graduate Legal Executive £145 p/h
Megan Quigley - Paralegal £50 p/h

Regardless of who works on your matter, they will be supervised by Mr John Benjamin Cooper who is a Partner with the firm and the Head of Department.

The current hourly rates do not include VAT which is added to our invoices at the standard rate of 20%