Probate and Estate Administration
It goes without saying that the period following the death of a loved one is difficult both emotionally and also in terms of the level of administration of their personal affairs that follows and it is our stated aim to do this in an empathetic and understanding way.
Our team can advise in regard to the following matters:-
• The terms of any Will including the role and duties of the appointed Executors;
• In the event that there is no Will the rules relating to intestacy;
• Ensuring that the Executors are safeguarded from any personal risk and liability;
• Obtaining details of all the assets and liabilities of the deceased including assets that may be held abroad;
• Preparing any inheritance tax forms for HMRC and ensuring that any reliefs available to the estate are claimed;
• Making any relevant application to the Probate Registry in order to obtain a Grant of Probate or in the case of intestacy, Letters of Administration;
• Distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of any Will or under the intestacy rules;
• Consideration being given to any variation to the terms of the Will or to the intestacy provisions;
• Any income or capital gains tax issues that may arise during the course of the administration of any estate.
While it may sound trite to say it, that fact is that often it is difficult to be able to give an accurate estimate of costs until we have met with you and discussed in full the nature and extent of the deceased’s full estate.
We will discuss costs with you at the outset and contact you as soon as possible in the event that we believe that we are going to exceed any estimate given initially in order to ensure transparency between us.
Whilst we make every effort to keep costs to a minimum it should be said that not every estate is the same and there can be a myriad of factors that create extra cost to the estate. It is important to remember that it is the estate that is liable for the cost of the administration. We do not charge on a percentage basis as some firms used to do but on an hourly rate.
There are various ways in which we might be able to assist you. For example it might be that you are dealing with a simple estate in which you have already undertaken the role of contacting the financial institutions for details of the value of the deceased’s assets at the date of their death, have been able to determine their liabilities and want us to help you to complete the paperwork in order to obtain a Grant of Representation. On the other hand you might wish for us to gather all the information required in terms of the assets and liabilities of the deceased and to complete the paperwork and obtain the Grant of Representation on your behalf and, once obtained, you might then wish to complete the work on the estate in respect to calling in the assets, paying off any liabilities and dealing with the signing off of the estate with HMRC and then paying any legacies. Then again you may wish for the firm to undertake all the work in relation to the estate from start to finish. In short and, while it may be obvious to say it, the more time we spend on the estate the more the cost will be.
In the event that you wish to discuss a fixed fee as a result of only requiring limited work to be undertaken by us then we are happy to discuss this directly with you.
When undertaking full estate administration for our clients we would take the responsibility for notifying all financial institutions of the death in order to obtain date of death balances, deal with share registrars and investment managers where relevant, ascertain and settle any liabilities of the deceased which might include dealing with any funeral costs. It might also include the sale or transfer of a property, dealing with any income tax and capital gains tax issues that may arise during the course of the administration.
The costs of dealing with an estate tend to break down in the following ways (subject of course to any unexpected complications):-
£750.00 to £2,500.00 – when the estate is fairly simple, for example there is a valid Will, a minimal asset value and number of different assets and easily identifiable beneficiaries.
£2,500.00 to £3,500.00 – there may be a larger number of assets and liabilities to be realised and settled, potentially a larger number of beneficiaries and potentially some questions relating to tax.
£3,500.00 to £4,500.00 – a more complicated estate with a larger number of assets, beneficiaries based overseas and the prospect of an inheritance tax liability.
£4,500.00 to £7,000.00 – a large number of high worth assets and an inheritance tax liability.
Our current hourly rates are £200.00 per hour for a senior solicitor and £225.00 per hour for a partner in the firm. These hourly rates are reviewed annually and all fees are subject to VAT at 20%.
Dealing with any estate takes time. For a full administration service on a non-taxable estate where the deceased may have held a number of bank accounts, a property and there are a number of beneficiaries, a realistic time estimate is between 6 and 9 months to conclusion. If an estate is taxable and there are other complicating factors then a realistic timescale would be up to 12 months to completion but this would be dependent upon HMRC’s prompt input.
Other incidental costs:-
Probate Court Fee (this is due to be raised in the near future) – £155.00 with additional copies of the Grant being charged at £1.50 each.
Statutory Advertisements (if it is believed that there may be unidentified creditors of the estate) – these can vary but should be no more than approximately £250.00
Bankruptcy charges (to ensure that the Executors can safely pay beneficiaries) – £2.00 each.