Probate & Wills Cost/Prices
Probate and Estate Administration Costs
Our highly experienced team of probate practitioners, led by solicitors are specialists in the administration of estates.
We provide advice on the process of administering estates and routinely deal with the full administration process both as professional executors and as the solicitors instructed by the personal representatives. Our wide-ranging expertise ensures we can provide sympathetic, practical advice including where an estate faces specific legal difficulties.
Key stages of Estate administration
The work that we are routinely instructed to undertake in the administration of estates includes the following:
- identifying and liaising with the legally appointed executors or potential administrators and the likely beneficiaries.
- If a valid will exists – considering necessary actions to satisfy the probate court of the validity of the will. This may involve contacting the person that drafted the will and the witnesses to its execution and preparing affidavits explaining the circumstances in which the will was signed and witnessed.
- where a will does not exist – considering who is entitled to apply to administer the estate under the intestacy rules.
- notifying asset holders of the death and obtaining information on the assets and their values.
- obtaining market values of properties and their contents.
- obtaining details of the debts owed by the deceased at death.
- considering reliefs and exemptions for Inheritance Tax which may apply including the availability of any Agricultural and or Business Property Reliefs
- advising on the implications of Discretionary Trusts in Wills.
- completing the relevant HM Revenue & Customs Inheritance Tax forms including preparing tax calculations.
- registering the estate on the Probate Court’s online portal.
- preparing the Legal Statement to be signed by the Personal Representative.
- submitting the application to the Probate Court and dealing with any queries raised
- obtaining the Grant of Probate.
- arranging for s27 Trustee Act notices if required.
- Advice on the transfer or encashment of holdings in any investment portfolio and transfer or sale of property involving consideration of the Capital Gains Tax situation of the estate and the beneficiaries.
- dealing with any assent of properties to trustees or to beneficiaries and registering at the Land Registry
- collecting all the estate assets, including the transfer or sale of shareholdings and encashment of policies
- negotiation with H M Revenue & Customs and potentially the District Valuer to finalise the property values to finalise the figures on which Inheritance Tax is calculated.
- registration, when necessary, of the estate on the Trust Register.
- preparation of Income Tax returns for the administration period.
- preparation of the Estate Accounts as an ongoing process.
It is important if there is uncertainty about how an estate should be managed to seek our advice. Failure to adhere to the correct procedure can be result in personal liability by the Personal Representatives where for example an estate is incorrectly administered. Additional costs or penalties can also be incurred with HM Revenue & Customs if Inheritance Tax is incorrectly paid or no paid on time.
How long will this take?
The work required to administer each estate varies significantly. The timescale will vary according to the number of assets and liabilities in the estate, the time it takes third parties to provide us with replies to our enquiries, any additional problems e.g. additional assets being discovered, assets abroad, Caveats being placed at the Probate Registry to prevent issue of the Grant etc. By way of guidance:
- for simple estates where no inheritance tax is due it typically takes 6 to 12 months to fully complete the whole of the administration and on average, estates are dealt with within a year
- for moderately complex estates it typically takes 1 to 2 years to fully complete the whole of the administration excluding estates involving trusts and complex taxation issues which can increase the time taken to complete the administration.
Basis for our charges?
They are based on hourly rates which reflect the experience, skills and qualification of the person conducting the work. Our hourly rates range from £175 to £250 per hour plus VAT. The actual cost of administering an estate will therefore vary significantly depending on the work required specific to the deceased’s estate.
Examples of fees
To provide you with an idea of our likely fees we set out an example below.
A straightforward probate
In circumstances involving:
- there a valid original will with no issues about its condition
- there is no more than one property registered at the Land Registry in the sole name of the deceased with no mortgage
- one bank with no more than two accounts in the sole name of the deceased which may or may not be ISA accounts
- some premium bonds and savings certificates held with National Savings & Investments
- no other assets either solely or jointly owned with the spouse or anyone else
- a spouse as the sole beneficiary
- there is no Inheritance Tax payable and the Executors do not need to submit a full Inheritance Tax account to HM Revenue & Customs
In this instance our fees might be expected to be in the range of £2,500 to £8,500 plus VAT and disbursements (as described below) to obtain the Grant of Probate and administer the estate thereafter.
Disbursements – Costs payable to third parties
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties and are not included in our fee estimates above. Examples of disbursements normally payable can include amongst others:
- Probate court fee payable when applying for a Grant of Representation – this is currently £155 plus £1.50 for each office copy requested
- bankruptcy-only Land Charges Department searches (£2plus VAT per beneficiary) though searches for beneficiaries who live outside of England & Wales will be higher
- the fees payable for s27 Trustee Act notices placed in the London Gazette and a local newspaper to protect personal representatives against unexpected claims from unknown creditors – estimated at £200
- valuation fees for property, chattels and stocks & shares
- Estate agent fees, if selling an estate property.
- Conveyancing fees, if selling or transferring a property, including Land Registry fees
- Stockbroker/registrar fees, if selling or transferring shares and/or investments
- costs of any insurances required
- H M Land register office copy entries £3 plus VAT
- Unclaimed asset register search £25
As advised above the exact cost of administering an estate can vary and will depend on the exact circumstances. We recommend that you contact our probate department on 01243 778844 to obtain an indication of the likely costs of dealing with your matter based upon your specific circumstances.