Wills & Probate

Wills and 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 Fees

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


Claire Ritchie

Senior Solicitor, Trusts & Estates

Senior Solicitor, Trusts & Estates

Claire Ritchie

Claire is a senior solicitor and deals with Wills, Estate Planning and Inheritance Tax Planning, Powers of Attorney, Court of Protection work, Estate Administration and Trust work.

Claire has specialised in Wills, Trusts and Estates for more than 11 years, having qualified as a legal executive in 2007 and then further qualified as a solicitor in 2014.

Claire enjoys, and has gained a good reputation for her work with elderly clients. She is a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly and a 'Dementia Friend'.

Emily Wiggins

Partner, Trusts & Estates

Partner, Trusts & Estates

Emily Wiggins

Emily specialises in inheritance tax planning, the administration of estates, trusts, wills and lasting powers of attorney.

She is a member of the Law Society Probate Section and takes the opportunity to write articles and has been published in the local, regional and national press.

Her clients are delighted by her kind approach and efficient way of dealing with their matters, regularly writing to the head of department to comment on how pleased they have been with the service.

Having trained in the City, Emily joined Hart Brown in 2004.

Emily 's clients have commented: "Emily was very helpful and a pleasure to work with - she made the experience very easy we will happily recommend Hart Brown."

Isabel Hodgson

Legal Executive, Trusts & Estates

Legal Executive, Trusts & Estates

Isabel Hodgson

Isabel is a specialist in Wills, probate, trusts, estate administration and powers of attorney.

Before joining Hart Brown, Isabel worked at another law firm for 10 years, qualifying as a Legal Executive in 2011, obtaining Fellowship in 2015.

Isabel is also an Accredited Member of Solicitors for the Elderly.

A friendly solicitor, Isabel can be found at our office in Cranleigh, an area she knows and loves.

Jordan Page

Senior Solicitor, Trusts & Estates

Senior Solicitor, Trusts & Estates

Jordan Page

Jordan is a Solicitor specialising in Wills, lasting powers of attorney and the administration of trusts and estates. He is based in the Trusts & Estates department in Guildford.

Jordan studied law at the University of Southampton, graduating in 2013. Whilst completing his LPC on a part time basis, Jordan worked in the firm’s quality and compliance department as the firm’s Chief Internal Auditor, before commencing his training contract in April 2016.

Having previously undertaken trainee roles in the Family and Residential Property departments, Jordan qualified into the Trust & Estates department where he completed his training.

What does Jordan regard as his specialism?

"The administration of estates and inheritance tax planning in equal measure. My experience of administering estates and calculating inheritance tax liabilities has provided me with valuable insight into how this particularly unpopular tax applies. This type of work has given me the tools to advise clients as to the steps they can take in advance to mitigate their exposure to inheritance tax. I pride myself on providing legal advice in a straightforward manner, cutting through the legal jargon. I always endeavour to work as efficiently as I can in order to provide the best level of service."

Jordan frequently receives great feedback from his clients:

"Hart Brown comes up trumps yet again"

“I appreciate your efforts and thank you for helping me to understand the process!”

"Thank you for your help, your ears will be burning, as I have been ringing your praises!!"

“Thank you for all your input, help and time - it has been much appreciated.”

“May I take this opportunity to thank you for your hard work and professionalism - it is a testament to all those who worked so hard on this case that it looks as though it will all be settled by the first year Anniversary. Quite remarkable!”

"I would like to place on record my appreciation of the efficient and quick service you have provided, particularly as I wished to have the new will in place before my departure on holiday."

Louise Harrhy

Partner, Head of Trusts & Estates

Partner, Head of Trusts & Estates

Louise Harrhy

A Partner based in Cranleigh, Louise is also Head of the Trusts & Estates team at Hart Brown and has extensive experience in a broad range of Private Client work.

Louise helps clients with all aspects of Private Client work and deals with the formation and administration of trusts, lifetime and post death planning and will drafting. She also works with other professional advisors to provide a complete package of advice.

Louise has considerable experience of applications for probate and estate administration often including complex issues and overseas assets. Additionally, she can help clients with Court of Protection matters including lasting powers of attorney and court applications for gifts.

"Louise Harrhy is highly experienced in probate applications and estate administration especially matters involving offshore assets. She is skilled in Court of Protection matters, including deputyships and lasting powers of attorney." (Chambers UK 2016)

"Louise Harrhy is a really driven and committed lawyer. She advises clients on a wide range of areas, including the creation of wills, the establishment of trusts and the administration of estates. Her work also incudes Court of Protection matters." (Chambers UK 2017)

Louise is also a member of The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

Margaret Gale

Associate, Trusts & Estates

Associate, Trusts & Estates

Margaret Gale

Margaret is an Associate and specialises in wills, the establishment and administration of trusts, probate, tax planning, powers of attorney and court of protection work.

Margaret joined Hart Brown in 2017, bringing with her 25 years' experience to the Trusts & Estates department in Cobham. She has worked as a Private Client lawyer in Surrey for over 25 years, and is also a member of STEP and the Law Society Private Client Section.

Nick Langmead

Associate, Trusts & Estates

Associate, Trusts & Estates

Nick Langmead

Nick is an Associate Solicitor in the Trusts & Estates department at the Cobham office of Hart Brown.

Nick has more than 20 years' experience drafting Wills for a wide range of clients and administering all types of estate, with values ranging from £20,000 to £1,000,000 and beyond.

Nick qualified as a solicitor in 1998 and holds a diploma in law and diploma in legal practice, he is also a full member of STEP (the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners).

Nick's clients appreciate his thorough approach, determination to get things right and commitment to listening to what his clients really want so he can help them to achieve their objectives.

Paul Tobias

Consultant, Trusts & Estates

Consultant, Trusts & Estates

Paul Tobias

Paul has a wealth of experience in wills, probate, trusts and inheritance tax planning, having specialised in this area for over 25 years.

He is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). In addition to his qualification as a solicitor, Paul holds the Securities Institute’s Private Client Investment Advice and Management professional qualification and the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Financial Planning Certificate (Cert PFS).

His clients value Paul’s undoubted expertise describing him as “of enormous help in all affairs" and "a source of wise counsel". A client recently stated that “It is a pleasure to deal with Paul Tobias. He has been helpful, friendly and is a real expert in the field of trusts and inheritance tax etc. I would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone in need of expert advice in this field”.

Paul is particularly keen on legal ways to avoid or reduce liability to tax. He also looks at the bigger picture. Recently a client consulted him about will planning. She mentioned a recent inheritance. Paul advised that it might be possible to use a deed of variation to reduce the IHT bill. The solicitor acting had not realised this. Time was tight but Paul fully investigated the position, verified that a deed of variation would be effective and completed a deed within a few working days. The result was a previously undreamt of reduction of IHT liability of around £140,000.

Paul trained at Hart Brown, qualified as a solicitor in 1980 and became a partner in 1983 until 2018.

Paul's clients often praise his work "Mr Tobias is very patient with elderly people and diplomatic and very pleasant to deal with. I rely on his very sound knowledge and good memory. He has dealt with family matters for me for the last twenty years."

Sue Macleod

Associate, Trusts & Estates

Associate, Trusts & Estates

Sue Macleod

Sue’s specialisms are wills, probate, tax planning and trusts.

Having qualified as a solicitor in 1994, Sue joined Hart Brown in 1997. She left in 2006 to look after her young family and returned in May 2010. “I am delighted to be back. Hart Brown has always been a lovely firm to work for and they really care about their clients which is also important to me” says Sue.

Sue's clients provide excellent feedback: "An excellent and efficient service. Would highly recommend to friends and family."

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