Probate Fees Probate Fees
For most people, the passing of a a family member, friend or loved one is a very difficult time. We are here to help our clients through the process, make things easier and guide them through the steps which need to be taken in order to administer the estate. Administering the estate of a deceased is not always complicated. However, even for the most straightforward estates, you must ensure that they are administered properly. Solicitors are routinely appointed to undertake the administration of an estate either in accordance with a will or the Intestacy Rules.
- Our Costs
Our costs for probate matters are charged either:
- on an hourly basis; or
- based on between 1-2.5% of the gross value of the estate, plus VAT.
We shall discuss costs at the outset of the matter with you and offer you any available pricing options.
Our hourly rates range from £150 plus VAT per hour to £595 plus VAT per hour depending on the seniority of the solicitor required. Very senior solicitors will only be involved in complex probate matters. Every estate differs from the other and so do the clients requirements. It is therefore very difficult or almost impossible for us to provide a definitive number of hours which it takes to properly administer an estate because of the many variable factors.
We will always provide our clients with time estimates where possible and keep them updated as to the amount of time spent. We will produce detailed breakdowns of time spent on a regular basis and deliver interim bills as and when possible. Our aim is to be clear and transparent at all times by billing regularly and keeping you updated. Please note that we will also request a payment of funds on account at the outset of our instructions.
Please note that contested estates / contested probate matters are always charged on an hourly basis.
It may also become necessary during the course of our instructions to instruct legal experts or to pay disbursements (expenses paid to third parties on your behalf) such as court/probate fees. Please click here to see the Probate Court Fees. We will also have to pay fees to other third parties including in order place an advert in the local newspaper and in the London Gazette; and to undertake bankruptcy, Land Registry and other relevant searches.
We will never make any such payments without your prior authorisation. If we are dealing with cross jurisdictional estates, then the fees of any foreign lawyers will also be notified to you in advance.
- Chargeable Activities
Chargeable activities include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Considering the matter
- Taking your instructions throughout the matter
- Providing initial advice and drafting client care/retainer letter or e-mail
- Obtaining and verifying due diligence documents from you, any related persons and companies
- Completing the file opening process
- Preparing bills of costs
- Collating documents and preparing bundles
- Drafting detailed breakdowns of bill of costs/time recording
- All incoming and outgoing correspondence including emails and letters
- Telephone calls
- Meetings with you and others
- Preparation of court pleadings, applications, documents and attendance notes
- Drafting and preparation of documents
- Legal research
- Monitoring and complying with deadlines
- Photocopying and scanning of documents
- Advising you throughout the matter
- Answering any questions you may have
- Providing you with copies of documents and correspondence
- Instructing counsel and/or experts
- Bank transfers
- Travel time to and from the court or meetings; and subsistence cost.
Please note that the majority of our correspondence will be by way of e-mail.
The steps involved in administering estates differ depending on the type, complexity and size of estate and also whether or not there is a will. Below, we outline a rough guideline of the main steps involved following a death and further, dealing with a standard (and non-contentious) administration of an estate of a UK domiciled person:
- Inform the family doctor, relatives and any other necessary persons
- Register the death
- Arrange the funeral
- Locate any last known will and identify any organ donation wishes or burial wishes. If no will can be found, make enquiries with the deceased’s bank or usual solicitors
- Identify the executors of the estate and inform them of their appointment. The executors (or the deceased’s next of kin if there is no will) should take charge of the estate administration
- Secure the deceased’s property and remove any valuables
- Examine the deceased’s papers to ascertain details of their assets
- Inform the deceased’s mortgage provider and banks of the death
- Write to all other applicable organisations to inform them of the death
- Advertise for creditors in the London Gazette and wait for 2 months before distribution
- Ascertain all the deceased’s debts and liabilities
- Obtain details of any jointly held assets
- Obtain a valuation of the deceased’s property or properties
- Value all the personal assets of the deceased
- Ascertain all gifts made by the deceased in the 7 years before their death
- Ascertain any income entitlements of the deceased and any money owed to them
- Investigate all pension arrangements and insurance policies if applicable
- Undertake a will search with the National Will Register
- Consider whether a post-dead Deed of Variation is required or desirable
- Obtain Inheritance Tax Reference Number
- Notify HMRC and complete an Inheritance Tax Account
- Pay any Inheritance Tax
- Prepare application for Probate and statement of truth.
- Apply for and obtain a Grant of Probate
- Consider possibility of any family provision claim (any children, lovers, ex-spouses or others who may have a claim against the estate). If there is any possibility, wait at least 6 months before distributing the estate assets
- Collect any debts owed to the deceased
- Pay any debts due from by the deceased
- Sell off any assets as required
- Deal with any trusts set up under the will. Inform the trustees and beneficiaries accordingly
- Prepare Estate Accounts
- Prepare Receipts for beneficiaries to sign
- Distribute the estate in accordance with their the will or the intestacy rules
Almost every estate is different in circumstance, value and complexity. Also, a large majority of the estates which we deal with have multi jurisdictional elements which often result in a longer administration period. As such, it is impossible to definitively say how long it will take to administer an estate and there is no such thing, in our view, as a usual estate. Whereas simple estates can be dealt with quickly, and sometimes without even the need to apply for a Grant of Probate, complicated and large estates take much longer; sometimes even many years.
However, based on a ‘typical’ estate with a gross value of around £1-2 million where Inheritance Tax is payable, where there are various assets based in the UK only (e.g. a property, household possessions, cash in the bank, listed shares in the UK) with 4 beneficiaries, on average, it will take around 6-12 months to administer the estate. Typically, undertaking all the preliminary steps leading up to submitting an Inheritance Tax Account, paying Inheritance Tax and then obtaining the Grant of Probate takes around 3-6 months. Collecting assets and completing the whole estate administration then follows, which can take between a further 3-6 months.
The estimated timescale can be quicker if the executors or administrators of the estate are well prepared with all relevant information to hand; and all beneficiaries and their whereabouts are known. It can however take longer if we have to deal with various third parties (as we have no control over third party timescales) and if there are complications including missing or deceased beneficiaries or if there are complications relating to the estate assets. If there is a claim made against the estate then the administration period could be delayed for a long time.