Est. 1949
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Probate and Estate Administration

We offer two levels of service in connection with probate matters – the Probate and Estate Administration Service and Applications for Grant of Probate Only. Information about both is set out below.

Probate and Estate Administration Service

Broadly speaking, probate administration involves:

  • identifying the executors and the beneficiaries of the estate
  • ascertaining the value of the estate’s assets and liabilities
  • preparing the relevant HM Revenue and Customs forms detailing those assets and liabilities
  • drafting the statement of truth for the executors to complete
  • preparing and submitting the application to the Probate Registry
  • obtaining the Grant of Probate
  • collecting in the estate assets, settling debts and distributing the estate to beneficiaries

We are able to handle the full process for you.

The following estimate is for straight-forward estates where there is no inheritance tax to pay and which qualify for HMRC’s short-form Return of Estate Information. Further information on the qualifying criteria is set out below.

Legal costs

Our fees are based on the time taken to deal with the estate and the value of the estate. We anticipate that it will take between 12 and 20 hours of work (depending on the number and complexity of assets and liabilities involved[1]) to prepare the application for probate and Return of Estate Information, collect in the assets, settle any outstanding debts and distribute the assets. Our probate solicitors are Claire Beard and Rebecca Walker and their hourly rate is currently £220 plus VAT. Hourly rates are reviewed periodically. This would result in a time charge of between £2520 and £4200 plus VAT. The exact time costs will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter. For example, if there is one beneficiary and no property, costs will be at the lower end of the range. If there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts or other assets, costs will be at the higher end.

In addition to the time cost, we charge a fee based on the value of the estate as follows:

  • 1% plus VAT of the value of the gross estate up to £500,000
  • 5% plus VAT of the value of the gross estate between £500,000 and £1,000,000
  • 2.5% plus VAT of the value of the gross estate over £1,000,000

 

We do not include the value of any residential or commercial property where we are also instructed on the sale of that property as part of the estate administration, as dealing with a sale is charged separately by our conveyancing department. If we are not instructed on the sale, the value of the property is included at 0.25% plus VAT.

 

For example, an estate with a gross value of £225000 (including a property worth £150000 to be transferred to two beneficiaries in the joint names) would attract a value element fee of £1125 plus VAT. If the same estate has two executors who are also the two beneficiaries, with accounts at two different banks, the usual utility bills to settle, distribution of the cash balance is made by cheques issued to the two beneficiaries and there no other complicating factors, we would anticipate that between 12 and 15 hours of work would be required to complete the administration. The total legal costs would be between £3645 and £4275 plus VAT (or between £4374 and £5130 inclusive of VAT).

 

On average, estates like this are dealt with within 6-12 months, but this may be longer where the executors and beneficiaries are not the same people as it can be prudent to delay distribution of the estate in those circumstances. Typically, obtaining the Grant of Probate takes between 8 and 20 weeks, depending upon the availability of the information required to complete the Return of Estate Information and the processing time at the probate registry. In urgent cases, it may be possible to obtain a Grant of Probate more quickly.

 

Disbursements

In addition to legal costs, there are disbursements which will be payable. Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. These include:

 

  • Probate application fee of £155
  • Additional copies of the Grant of Probate at 50p each
  • Bankruptcy-only Land Charges Department searches £2 for each beneficiary
  • Statutory Notice in the London Gazette and a local newspaper arranged by a notice agency – this varies depending on the local newspaper involved, but is currently in the region of £166 inclusive of VAT for notices in the London Gazette and the Northampton Chronicle & Echo

 

Potential additional costs

  • In relation to property forming part of the estate there will be Land Registry fees in connection with up to date title documents at £3. If the property is to be transferred to one or more beneficiaries, there are Land Registry fees to pay to register the transfer. The amount of the fee depends on the value of the property. If the property is sold, rather than transferred to a beneficiary, our conveyancing department will charge separately for dealing with the sale. You may also incur estate agent fees.
  • In relation to stocks and shares forming part of the estate, there may be additional charges by the registrars for transferring or selling the shares, dealing with lost share certificates or providing replacement cheques for uncashed dividends or tax information prior to the date of death. If it is appropriate to use a stock broker to deal with the holdings, they will usually charge either a fixed fee or commission.
  • The estate may require the services of an accountant to calculate self-assessment tax liabilities for the period up to the date of death and subsequently during the administration of the estate. Depending on the value of the estate and the likely tax liability, it may be necessary for the accountant to arrange registration of the estate with the HMRC for that purpose.
  • If distribution of the estate is required by bank transfer, we will charge an additional fee of £35 plus VAT for each same-day transfer or £10 plus VAT for each transfer taking 3 working days.
  • If there is no Will or if a Will cannot be located, if the estate requires a full Inheritance Tax Return (whether or not Inheritance is payable), if investigation of another estate is required in order to claim transferable Inheritance Tax allowances, if there are assets outside England and Wales, if there are missing or potentially unknown beneficiaries or if there is any dispute regarding or claim made against the estate, the number of hours involved in the administration of the estate and the period of time required to deal with the administration of the estate will increase. We will give you a more accurate estimate of the likely time and costs involved as soon as we are able to do so. This is not an exhaustive list of the complicating factors that might arise in connection with the administration of an estate.

 

Applications for Grant of Probate only

If you instruct us to apply for a Grant of Probate on your behalf only, as opposed to the full estate administration, we will:

  • review the relevant information that you supply to us and prepare the relevant HMRC forms
  • draft the statement of truth for the executors to complete
  • preparing and submitting the application to the Probate Registry
  • obtaining the Grant of Probate

We will not collect in the estate assets, settle debts and distribute the estate to beneficiaries.

The following estimate is for straight-forward estates where there is no inheritance tax to pay and which qualify for HMRC’s short-form Return of Estate Information.

Legal costs

Our fees are based on the time taken to deal with the application. We anticipate that it will take between 3 and 6 hours of work (depending on the number and complexity of assets and liabilities involved) to prepare the application for probate. Our probate solicitors are Claire Beard and Rebecca Walker and their hourly rate is currently £210 plus VAT. Hourly rates are reviewed periodically. This would result in a time charge of between £630 and £1260 plus VAT. The exact time costs will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter. If you require our assistance in ascertaining the value of the assets and liabilities which make up the estate, including corresponding with third parties on your behalf, this will be charged in addition on the basis of the time taken.

Fixed Fee Option

Alternatively, if you are able to obtain and supply all of the information necessary to complete short-form Return of Estate Information, you may prefer to instruct us on a “fixed fee” basis. Our fixed fee for these probate applications is £995 plus VAT. A fixed fee is not available in cases where there are complicating factors, such as those set out below.

Typically, obtaining the Grant of Probate takes between 8 and 20 weeks, depending upon the availability of the information required to complete the Return of Estate Information and the processing time a the Probate Registry. In urgent cases, it may be possible to obtain a Grant of Probate more quickly.

 

Disbursements

In addition to legal costs, there are disbursements which will be payable. Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. These include:

 

  • Probate application fee of £155
  • Additional copies of the Grant of Probate at 50p each

 

Potential additional costs

If there is no Will or if a Will cannot be located, if the estate requires a full Inheritance Tax Return (whether or not Inheritance is payable), if investigation of another estate is required in order to claim transferable Inheritance Tax allowances, if there are assets outside England and Wales or if there are missing or potentially unknown beneficiaries or if there is any dispute regarding or claim made against the estate, the number of hours involved in preparing the application and the period of time required to deal with the application for probate will increase. We will give you a more accurate estimate of the likely time and costs involved as soon as we are able to do so. This is not an exhaustive list of the complicating factors that might arise in connection with the application for probate.

 

 

 

 

[1] This range assumes that there is no more than one property forming part of the estate, no more than 4 separate banks or building societies involved, there are no other intangible assets, there are no more than 4 liabilities, there are no more than 4 beneficiaries. Estates which exceed these parameters will usually involve more hours of work. Further potential additional costs are set out below.

Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA ID: 389678). Max Engel is the trading name of Max Engel & Co LLP a limited liability partnership (Members: R E Engel, H L Carville and S G Lawson) registered in England, registered number: OC 305962. Registered office: 8 Hazelwood Road, Northampton NN1 1lP. VAT Number: 119 4485 55.

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