Wills & Probate

Wills and Probate


Wills and Probate :

Probate

We understand that dealing with the death of a loved one is an emotional time; you do not want to be burdened with dealing with the estate. Our probate solicitors can help take the stress away by helping you to deal with the legal issues, whether that is offering advice and support in our free initial half hour meeting, or dealing with the probate for you.

We will advise you on all of the information you require to apply for a grant of probate and we can help you complete the forms if required. Once the grant of probate has been obtained the assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the will. If you are an executor to the will, we can advise you of your powers, duties and responsibilities.

If someone has died without a will, the rules of intestacy will apply. We can advise you on what the rules are and the actions you will need to take. We can also help with tracking down missing beneficiaries.

If you believe the terms of a will are unfair or find yourself involved in a dispute about the will of a family member, our specialist will dispute solicitors can help you find a quick and effective solution to the dispute. We understand the last thing you want at this difficult time is to be arguing with a family member. We will always consider out of court methods of dispute resolution initially, such as negotiation, round table meetings and mediation but if necessary we will go to court to ensure you receive what you are entitled to.

To discuss probate with a specialist trusts and estates solicitor, call or email us today.

 

Our probate fees:

When it comes to probate, no two estates are the same, and the level of help and advice that each client requires will vary. We therefore adopt a very flexible approach and at the outset, we offer a free half hour meeting during which time we will establish the nature of the work we are required to do and likewise the extent of the work that the executors wish to undertake themselves.

We can deal with the registration of the death and arrange the funeral if required.  We can also oversee security matters, visiting the property to obtain details of assets, arrange valuations and the sale/transfer of a property or other assets.

Our team:

We have a highly skilled team of Solicitors and Legal Executives who specialise in probate work.  You will have the benefit of one dedicated and experienced lawyer working on your matter throughout the process. Regardless of who works on your matter, they will be supervised by Louise Harrhy, Partner and Head of the Trusts and Estates Department. You can view the members of our team, their qualifications and experience and see who could be working on your matter by clicking on the staff profiles at the bottom of this page.

We are required to publish the details of our prices for probate work in relation to uncontested cases where all of the assets are in the UK. This includes both estates where the deceased has left a will and those where the deceased has died without leaving a will (intestate) and this covers both taxable and non-taxable estates.

We aim to deal with the work up to the issue of the grant on a fixed fee basis and the work thereafter (in dealing with the administration of the estate) will be scoped for on the basis of hourly rates and a clear estimate will be provided. If it is possible to provide a fixed fee at that point, we will do so.

Please remember that the costs for dealing with administration of the estate will be paid from the estate.

Hourly rates:

The hourly rates of the members of the team range from £222 including VAT at 20% for a one year qualified solicitor, to £390 including VAT at 20% for our most experienced consultant who will act in a supervisory capacity only. These rates are reviewed on an annual basis in April.

Cost estimates and fixed fees:

We will always give you a cost estimate or fixed fee at the start of the process as the price will be determined by a number of factors such as:

  • the nature and number of the assets in the estate;
  • the number of beneficiaries;
  • whether or not there is a valid will;
  • whether or not there is inheritance tax payable;
  • whether or not we are required to claim transferable tax allowances;
  • whether or not we are required to establish the asset and liability values and notify parties of the death;
  • whether or not the deceased made gifts within the last 7 years of their life;
  • whether or not there are any aggregated trust assets; and
  • whether or not there are specific or cash legacies to be dealt with.

We will always advise immediately of any complications and discuss the impact on price (offering a fixed fee where appropriate) before any additional charges are incurred.

An example of a fixed fee:

By way of example, our fees for dealing with the administration of a very straightforward estate (which includes obtaining the grant, collecting the assets and distributing them) would be £3,684 including VAT at 20% + disbursements (which are the costs related to the matter and paid to third parties by us on behalf of our client, but for which our client is responsible).

In this example, there would be:

  • a valid will;
  • no more than one property;
  • no more than one bank account;
  • one life policy;
  • an interest in another estate;
  • one beneficiary (in this example, the surviving spouse);
  • no inheritance tax (IHT) payable;
  • no claims against the estate;
  • details of the assets and liabilities provided by the executors; and
  • no requirement for us to register the death, arrange the funeral or visit the property for any valuation purposes.

We would undertake to do the following:

  • ascertain the full extent of the assets and liabilities of the estate by correspondence with the relevant organisations;
  • complete the HM Revenue & Customs return of estate information form (IHT205) and prepare the oath for the executors;
  • assist with signing and swearing the oath for the executors and signing the IHT205 and sending the application to the Probate Registry;
  • obtain the grant of probate and register the grant with the relevant organisations and deal with the closure of the building society account;
  • place statutory advertisements;
  • pay any outstanding bills and expenses;
  • prepare a full and final set of estate accounts; and
  • obtain the executors’ approval to the estate accounts and distribute the estate according to the will.

The disbursements in this example would consist of the following:

  • probate application fee of £155 and 4 office copies at £0.50 each (£157);
  • swear fees per executor, £5 for the oath and £2.40 per exhibit including VAT at 20% (£7.40);
  • statutory advertisements, £193.90 including VAT at 20%; and
  • bankruptcy searches for a UK beneficiary, £2.40 including VAT at 20%.

Other disbursements you could expect to pay in addition to a fixed fee would include:

  • unclaimed asset register search, £25 including VAT at 20%;
  • Certainty search, £45.60 including VAT at 20%;
  • bankruptcy search for an overseas beneficiary, from £60 including VAT at 20%;
  • chattels valuation fees, from £240-£480 including VAT at 20%;
  • property valuation fees from £300-£900 including VAT at 20%;
  • money transfer fees to UK banks, £18 including VAT at 20% for BACS and £39.60 including VAT at 20% for same day transfer;
  • money transfer fees to overseas banks £72 including VAT at 20%; and
  • land registry fees £3.60 including VAT at 20%.

What we are expected to undertake:

The work we would be expected to undertake in providing advice and assistance in relation to the administration of an estate would be as follows, to:

  • establish the relevant facts;
  • gather relevant documents for the application for the grant of representation (i.e. grant of probate or grant of letters of administration);
  • notify parties, relevant to the administration of the estate, of the death;
  • obtain date of death values of assets and liabilities;
  • deal with any pre-grant inheritance tax formalities;
  • draft an Inheritance Tax form;
  • draft the oath;
  • lodge the application for a grant of representation with the Probate Registry;
  • deal with all debtors and creditors of the estate once a grant of representation has been issued;
  • cash in assets that are to be liquidated;
  • discharge administration expenses;
  • arrange for the satisfaction of any specific (i.e. items) and cash legacies;
  • produce estate accounts for the approval of the personal representatives (i.e. the executors or the administrators) and beneficiaries;
  • distribute the estate in accordance with the will/intestacy rules; and
  • advise the personal representatives in connection with the above.

Where we are working under a fixed fee arrangement, if the estate is more complicated than usual for its size, or if there are assets or liabilities that later come to light or the estate is larger than you have told us, it is likely that we will have to charge separately for dealing with the additional work. 

It is also possible that issues will arise from time to time which we do not regard as being part of the normal administration work of an estate.  When they arise, we usually refer them to colleagues who are experts in their own field or to an external expert, such as a barrister or an accountant.

Examples of such work that cannot be included in a fixed fee are:

  • legal work regarding a property sale or purchase;
  • work regarding a claim made by the Department of Work and Pensions relating to the deceased’s state benefits;
  • work regarding the deceased’s pre-death tax affairs;
  • work regarding the estate’s income tax and capital gains tax affairs during the estate administration period;
  • work regarding negotiation with HMRC (including with the Share and Asset Valuation (SAV) department) or the District Valuer following submission of the IHT account. If it appears that the work involved will extend beyond one or two telephone conversations or letters, additional charges would be incurred;
  • work connected with a deceased’s membership of Lloyd’s underwriters;
  • work regarding assets and liabilities that come to light after the fixed fee figure was provided;
  • work resulting from alternative arrangements created by a deed of variation in relation to the estate;
  • work involved in dealing with any contentious issues, including issues between personal representatives and issues between beneficiaries and personal representatives, whether or not involving actual litigation;
  • work in relation to the foreign element of an estate;
  • investigative work involved with ascertaining any gifts made by the deceased during their lifetime; and
  • work in dealing with genealogists and/or tracing agents and ascertaining the identity of beneficiaries and beneficial interests.

If any such issue arises a quote will be given for any of the additional work.  Where possible, that quote will contain a further fixed fee.

Timescales:

As to likely timescales and stages, the process for dealing with the administration of an estate can be broken down into stages as follows:

  • establishing the values of the assets and liabilities;
  • preparing the IHT forms;
  • paying the IHT and applying for the grant;
  • on receipt of the grant, calling in the assets, settling the debts, legacies and any outstanding tax due;
  • preparing the estate accounts and dealing with the tax for the administration period; and
  • distributing the assets in accordance with the terms of the will/rules of intestacy.

On average, you might expect the grant of probate to take between 4 and 6 months to obtain and the rest of the administration might take a further 6 to 18 months depending on the complexity of the estate. The estate cannot be dealt with until all claims to it have been received. Individuals have 6 months from the date when probate was granted to make claims against the estate.

who to contact


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