Our well regarded wills and probate team includes specialist lawyers with many years’ collective experience undertaking wills and probate work. The team is supervised by our partner, Colin Moore. If you instruct us your matter will always be primarily conducted by one of our specialist lawyers. You will be given their direct telephone number and email address and of course be able to meet with them as required throughout the matter.
The probate services team is renowned for its expertise and professional, efficient, friendly and sympathetic approach.
We are pleased to present below some key information about our full probate services.
Scope of services
A full estate administration involves a number of procedural, legal and accounting tasks and our comprehensive service includes the work outlined below:
- Meetings and communications with you to discuss matters and take instructions, as required from time to time.
- Formally notifying the Office of the Public Guardian or Court of Protection of the death in relation to any power or attorney or deputyship arrangements, if required.
- Advising on the terms of the deceased’s will and the role of executor.
- Gathering details of the assets and liabilities of the estate, formally notifying the death and registering our involvement with all relevant financial organisations and commissioning valuations.
- Arranging the valuation, distribution and disposal of the deceased’s household and personal goods, as required.
- In relation to the estate property, where applicable, managing the building and contents insurance policies, council tax, gas, electricity, water and any other accounts based on the information and facts you provide us with, as required pending completion of a transfer or sale of the property out of the estate and closing the policies/accounts accordingly.
- In relation to the inheritance tax position of the estate: (a) assessing the inheritance tax liability of the estate including any claims for the ordinary nil rate band and the residence nil rate band together with the transfer of any unused ordinary nil rate band and unused residence nil rate band; (b) preparing the HMRC inheritance tax return/account, lodging it with the Probate Registry of the High Court of Justice or HMRC as appropriate and liaising with HMRC to agree the value of the estate, the overall inheritance tax position and to obtain clearance, as required; and (c) advising on the ways of raising funds to settle any inheritance tax liability and assisting generally with arrangements in this regard.
- Preparing the statement of truth for the application for the grant of probate, arranging the signing thereof and lodging the application with the Probate Registry of the High Court of Justice.
- Arranging the placement of statutory notices advertising for any creditors/claimants, where instructed to do so.
- Advising on the procedure for the liquidation, sale or transfer of property and other assets in the estate and on capital gains tax implications, as necessary.
- Submitting the grant of probate and all necessary closing/transfer documentation to all organisations holding the estate’s money and investments.
- Collecting estate money into our client account where it will be protected by the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules relating to the administration of client money.
- Finalising the deceased’s personal tax affairs for the tax year of death and collecting any repayment or paying any liability, as required.
- Arranging payment of estate liabilities, as required.
- Arranging the distribution of specific legacies and the payment of pecuniary legacies, as required.
- Distributing interim payments to the residuary beneficiaries, if and when appropriate.
- Reporting to HMRC with details of any income received or capital gains realised by the estate under the informal procedure and supplying the tax deduction certificates where required.
- Compiling the Report and Estate Account, including the key points of the administration and full financial information and submitting this to the executors and residuary beneficiaries for approval.
- Distributing the residuary estate (or the balance of the residuary estate if interim payments have been made) to the residuary beneficiaries and obtaining the final receipts and discharges.
- Acting as custodian and point of contact in relation to the estate generally.
Costs and Disbursements
Our costs for undertaking the full administration of an estate from start to finish are usually calculated on the time we spend on carrying out the work and the value of the estate.
The current hourly rates for this work are for partners £300, solicitors £250, legal executives and equivalent experienced fee earners £225 and trainees and equivalent experienced fee earners £150.
The current value element charge is:
- 0.5% of the gross probate value of the deceased’s main residence; and
- 1% of the gross probate value of the rest of the deceased’s assets.
The exact costs will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter but in our experience our costs tend to amount to somewhere in the region of 2% – 3% of the gross probate value of the entire estate. This is a broad estimate based on us undertaking the work identified in the scope of services above and the assumptions set out below.
You will be kept informed about the costs, as appropriate, throughout the matter and we are normally able to provide a more accurate estimate when we get to the point of applying for the grant of probate. In addition, please ask if at any time you require a costs update. We will tell you if any unforeseen extra work becomes necessary. Before we carry out the extra work we will advise you of the additional costs that are likely to be incurred and ask you to agree them.
If applicable, we will also charge:
- a money transfer fee of £10, £40 or £75 respectively for each electronic BACS, CHAPS or international payment we are instructed to send to your or another party’s bank account; and
- our travel expenses at 45p per mile and any recorded, special or international delivery postage at cost. VAT is added to all of our costs above at the rate that applies when we issue a bill. The current rate is 20%.
During the estate administration there will be other expenses called ‘disbursements’. The most common disbursements and estimated amounts are:
Land Registry entries £6
Probate Registry fee £155 (plus £1.50 for each sealed office copy grant of probate)
Statutory advertisements £300
Bankruptcy searches £2 per name searched
Please note that our broad estimate takes into account the following assumptions. If one or more of these factors applies to your case it may alter the costs involved. Please contact us for further guidance.
We have assumed the following.
- There is a valid will.
- No partner of our firm is appointed as an executor.
- The deceased was domiciled and resident in England and Wales.
- There are no non-English assets in the estate.
- There are no business or agricultural interests or commercial properties in the estate.
- The gross value of the entire estate does not exceed £1,000,000.
- There is no more than one residential property in the estate and there is no significant ‘development potential’.
- We are not required to undertake any property management work, for example inspecting the property, arranging maintenance and repairs, collecting rents or meeting estate agents/potential buyers at the property.
- The broad estimate does not include conveyancing work in relation to the sale of the estate property, if applicable. Our residential conveyancing department will be pleased to act for you in relation to the sale of the property.
- There are no more than 10 financial accounts/investments/policies/pensions etc.
- There are no more than 10 beneficiaries (whether specific, pecuniary or residuary beneficiaries).
- HMRC does not raise any enquires in relation to any tax concerning the estate.
- HMRC does not require estate tax returns (income tax and capital gains tax) in relation to the administration period.
- There are no claims made against the estate or any contentious/litigious matters concerning the estate generally.
- We are not required to undertake any other task not covered by the scope of services above.
In many cases we complete the valuation process and apply for the grant of probate within around four months after receiving your full instructions. We then expect to obtain the grant of probate within around one month thereafter, unless inheritance tax is payable in which case the process will take longer.
Thereafter, it is extremely difficult to give you an accurate estimate of how long it will take to complete the administration of an estate because each case is different. A further period of perhaps four to six months may be a reasonable broad assumption but we will able to give you a more accurate time estimate for completion once the grant of probate has been issued.
Examples of factors that may affect the time it takes are as follows.
- The number and type of assets and liabilities in the estate and how quickly the various institutions we have to obtain information from take to reply to our correspondence.
- How quickly the property sells, where applicable.
- How quickly the Probate Registry processes the application for probate.
- How quickly HMRC responds in relation to the inheritance tax account, where applicable.
- The number of beneficiaries and how long they take to reply to our correspondence.
You will be kept informed about the timescale throughout the matter. In addition, please ask if at any time you require an update.
This information is for general guidance only as no estate administration is the same. We can adapt the scope of services to suit your requirements and as a result the costs involved. Therefore, we invite you to meet one of our specialist solicitors to discuss your precise requirements and obtain a bespoke estimate of the costs that are likely to be incurred in your case.