We advise on all aspects of probate and estate law, from obtaining probate and administering estates to advising disappointed beneficiaries on how to challenge a will. Where requested by clients we are happy to act as personal representatives.
In order to help the public make an informed choice on the appropriate firm of solicitors to undertake estate administration, the Solicitors Regulation Authority requires all solicitors’ firms who carry out uncontested probate work to set out details of the fees they would charge.
For all matters, including uncontested probate work, we operate a transparent cost structure and we will agree the scope of any work to be undertaken and our applicable hourly rates with our clients prior to any commitment.
Our hourly rates are listed below and will not change unless notified to you. We are able to provide you with a full schedule of services performed on your accounts. Our terms and conditions will be set out in our client care letter issued in accordance with our professional rules.
Probate Price Transparency
By way of explanation, Probate is the term used to describe the process following death to enable the deceased’s assets to be dealt with. A Grant of Representation is a document that is issued by the Court (the Probate Registry) to the Executors (the persons named by the deceased’s Will to administer their estate) which proves their authority to receive the assets and administer the deceased’s estate. Although different grants are issued in other situations, including where the deceased did not leave a valid Will, the term Grant of Probate is used on this page to include all forms of grant of representation.
Although under the regulations we are permitted to charge for administering an estate based on a percentage value of the estate, we feel that that this is not appropriate for our clients and, therefore, instead we charge on an hourly basis. Our charge out rates per hour (exclusive of VAT which is charged at 20%) are as follows:
- Caroline Barkham, Partner – £470
- Paul Edwards, Partner – £480
- Hugh Bradshaw, Partner – £425
- Claire Tenwick, Solicitor – £350
- Matthew McCormick, Solicitor – £280
We are all qualified Solicitors and our team has over 100 years of collective post-qualification experience in all matters relating to wills and estate administration. We administer all types of estates and have particular expertise in high value estates and inheritance tax matters.
The complexity of an estate, eg the types of assets, the extent of liabilities, the availability of reliefs, domicile of the deceased, can significantly affect the amount of work that is required to be undertaken to administer the estate. It is therefore possible to give general guidance only on the total fees we would expect to charge in connection with administering an estate.
A costed example
Where an estate is not complex with all of the assets and beneficiaries located in the UK, the value is no greater than £1 million and there is no Inheritance Tax to pay, our fees for applying for the Grant of Probate, collecting and distributing the assets may be somewhere in the region of £5,000 – £10,000 plus VAT (£6,000 to £12,000 including VAT) and disbursements.
The exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter. For example, if there is one beneficiary and only a couple of bank accounts, costs may be at the lower end of the range. If there are a number of beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts and investments, costs may be at the higher end. For complex estates and those valued in excess of £1 million we would expect a corresponding increase in the fees we charge.
Disbursements are costs related to the matter which are payable to third parties. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.
The following disbursements are likely to apply in the above example:
- Probate application fee – £155
(It is proposed that this court fee will be revised to be based on the value of the estate and range from £250 for estates worth between £50,000-£300,000 to £6,000 for estates worth more than £2 million. The legislation to implement this change is only in draft form at present).
- Additional copies of the Grant of Probate – £1.50 per copy
- Notice in the London Gazette to protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors or beneficiaries – £64.25 plus VAT (£74.10 including VAT)
- Notice in a local newspaper in which land the deceased owned is situated – the price will depend on the publication but is usually about £80 plus VAT (£96 including VAT)
- Bankruptcy only Land Charges Department searches – £2 per beneficiary per distribution
VAT does not apply to the above disbursements unless stated otherwise
As part of our services we will:
- Identify the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries
- Ascertain the value of assets and liabilities of the deceased as at the date of the deceased’s death. This includes, contacting the organisations in which the deceased is known to hold bank accounts or investments and arranging for the valuation of assets
- Identifying the correct Inheritance Tax Return required for the Estate and completing the Return
- Identifying the type of Probate application required and preparing a legal statement
- Filing the Inheritance Tax Return and making the application to the Probate court on your behalf
- Obtaining the Grant of Probate
- Collecting all assets in the estate, paying liabilities from those assets and distributing the remainder in accordance with the terms of the Will
Although we do not generally undertake the following services, we will recommend experienced professionals to assist if required and their fees will be in addition to those outlined above:
- Preparation of lifetime Tax Returns or formal Tax Returns for the period of administration;
- Conveyancing for the sale of a property; and
- Preparation of Estate Accounts
On average the administration of estates that fall into the above category are completed within six to twelve months. Although Estate administrations are completed as quickly as possible each Estate is different and we like to be realistic with time estimates. In some cases it may take more time to obtain the information we require to enable us to complete the Inheritance Tax Return, or it may take longer to receive tax clearances from HMRC.
Typically in the case of a straightforward Estate of the type outlined above it is possible to be in a position to file the Inheritance Tax Return and apply for Grant of Probate from between 2 to 3 months following instruction. Once Probate has been granted (which depends on the turn-around time of HMRC and the Probate Registry at that time) collecting in assets then follows which can take between 2 to 4 weeks (assuming there is no property to sell). Once the assets have been collected, we can pay any pecuniary legacies or specific bequests, arrange for any Income or Capital Gains Tax filings and circulate Estate Accounts for approval which normally takes between 4 to 8 weeks. Following completion of all the formalities we can make the final distributions.
We usually bill on a monthly basis, but until the grant of representation has been issued we would not usually look to receive payment. Payment is generally obtained from the assets that are encashed so no payment is required from the Executors.
Probate work is often frontloaded with a substantial amount of the work, including preparing the HMRC Inheritance Tax Return and the application for the grant of probate, undertaken before the grant of probate is issued. Once the grant of probate has been issued the personal representatives are then required to gather in the assets of the estate, pay any liabilities and distribute the remainder of the estate in accordance with the terms of any Will or with the law of intestacy. We would continue to charge on a monthly basis for dealing with this stage of the administration.
As with all of our matters, we will agree the scope of any work to be undertaken the basis of our charges with our clients prior to any commitment. If you would like any further information on our costs please contact us.