Unless the estate is very small and/or assets have been held jointly, the Personal Representatives of the Deceased (i.e. the Executors named in the Will or, where there is no Will, next of kin) will have to obtain a Grant of Representation from the Probate Registry showing their entitlement to deal with the estate. We will probably be able to tell you straight away if a Grant if needed and, if it is, we will be pleased to prepare all the paperwork required in order to obtain the Grant of Representation.
If the Deceased left a Will, the application is to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate; if the Deceased did not make a Will and therefore died intestate, the application is for a Grant of Letters of Administration.
If a Will was left this should set out who is to inherit the estate. If there was no Will, the law sets out who is entitled to inherit – the following link will help you to work out exactly who inherits on intestacy:- https://www.gov.uk/inherits-someone-dies-without-will
The first stage of our work will be to apply for the Grant but, after the Grant is obtained, we will deal with the administration of the estate which will include collecting in the assets of the estate, settling estate liabilities, dealing with tax issues and ultimately distributing the estate in favour of beneficiaries.
Many issues can arise during the course of the administration and it is impossible to predict at the beginning of a case exactly what work will be required in order to bring the administration to a successful conclusion. Accordingly, the amount of our legal charges will be worked out on the basis of the time spent. The ultimate cost 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/investments, costs will be at the higher end.
Fees for Simple Estates
For simple estates, between 10 and 15 hours work may be required and, on that basis, our fees would be likely to work out between £2,000.00 – £3,000.00 plus VAT based on an hourly rate of £200.00 plus VAT. As the administration progresses we will regularly review the amount of time expended and, if it becomes necessary to revise any estimate, we will let you have an updated estimate of the likely fees to conclude the administration.
Fees for Complex Estates
Our legal charges for administering complex estates will be based on the amount of time it takes to complete the administration – an hourly rate of £200 plus VAT will apply. Where we are able to estimate the number of hours work, we will provide you with an initial estimate of the likely fees. We will review the amount of time expended at regular intervals and if at any point it becomes clear that more hours work than previously estimated will be required we will let you have a revised estimate of the likely charges to conclude the administration. It is not always possible at the outset of our retainer to provide you with an estimate of the total number of hours work required in order to deal with the administration. Where we cannot provide you with an initial estimate of the likely charges we will, for budgeting purposes, set a costs limit on the file such that we will not carry out more than 15 hours work (equating to fees of £3,000.00 plus VAT) without further reference to you. Once we have obtained the grant of Probate we should be in a position to provide you with an estimate of the number of hours work required to complete the administration. For some complex estates where the responsibility is greater there may be additional charges based on the value of the estate – value charges will not be made unless we have expressly stated that the same are to apply and provided details of the applicable percentages in our Terms of Business.
In addition to our legal charges certain payments to third parties will be required. These are referred as “disbursements” and will be additional to our fees. We will generally tell you about any disbursements which it is necessary for us to pay before incurring the same on your behalf. Typical disbursements are as follows:-
- Probate Registry application fee of £155.00 for obtaining the Grant. If additional copies of the Grant are required, they will cost £1.50 per copy
- Valuation fees – e.g. a stockbroker or surveyor may charge for valuing assets.
- Property clearance fees
- Buildings insurance costs
- Statutory advertising for creditors
- Land Registry fees where property is to be transferred to beneficiaries
The tax charges which can arise when someone dies will be additional to the fees we charge for our Probate service. The most significant tax charge will be Inheritance Tax (IHT) which is generally charged where the value of the estate exceeds the Deceased’s available allowances. For the tax year 2020-21 the allowances available to an individual will (subject to there being no substantial gifts in the 7 year period prior to death) total £500,000 (£325,000 basic allowance and £175,000 where a residence is passing to lineal descendants). In the case of married couples there is usually no tax to pay when a spouse dies and is survived by the other spouse – at the point where the surviving spouse dies, provided the spouse who has died first did not use his/her allowances, the same can be transferred to the surviving spouse which may mean that up to £1,000,000 can pass down to the children or other chosen beneficiaries free from IHT. As part of our service we will ensure that you receive comprehensive advice not only in relation to IHT but also the Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax liabilities of the estate.
For more information generally with regard to the Probate process you may find the following link helpful:- https://www.legalchoices.org.uk/probate