In addition to the cost of our legal advice and support for administering the estate, there will be a number of additional costs which have to be paid at the same time, and which your solicitor is obliged to collect.
This guide explains our fees and those additional costs (known as disbursements) and gives an approximate indication of costs – or details of where the costs come from.
Our fees and charges
On average, the costs of dealing with a straightforward estate where there is one property and two bank accounts with a total asset value of the estate under the current inheritance tax threshold of £325,000 would be approximately £4000 plus VAT.
However, no probate matter is exactly the same, and because of this we can only give you a reliable estimate of the cost once we have a detailed knowledge of your situation. We will discuss this in greater detail at your initial appointment and provide you with a fixed fee once we have all the relevant information.
As part of our services we will:
- provide you with a dedicated and experienced probate Lawyer to work on your matter;
- identify the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries;
- accurately identify the type of probate application you will require;
- obtain the relevant documents required to make the application;
- complete the probate application and the relevant HMRC forms;
- Prepare the Statement of Truth for the Executors to sign;
- make the application to the probate registry on your behalf;
- obtain the probate;
- Prepare the Estate accounts, and
- collect and distribute all assets in the estate.
There are many factors that increase the complexity of the estate and can extend the time it takes to administer it, and in turn increase the legal costs. Such factors include:
- whether there is a will and if it needs to be located;
- whether any executors have died or refused to act;
- whether the grant of probate is likely to be contested;
- estimated total value of assets;
- number and value of properties and whether they are outside England and Wales;
- the number and value of actual assets and liabilities apart from property;
- the number of beneficiaries;
- if any beneficiaries do not have capacity under the Mental Health Act, or are under 18;
- whether there are any missing beneficiaries;
- whether there are any trusts in the will;
- whether the estate is taxable;
- whether any gifts were made in the deceased’s lifetime; and
- whether any forensic work is needed to create a family tree under intestacy.
Inheritance tax advice
Inheritance tax is charged by the government and payable to HMRC. You can find out whether the deceased’s estate might be liable to inheritance tax and approximately how much at the HMRC website.
Working out the inheritance tax payable on the estate can be a complex matter and if we feel that specialist tax advice is required, we will advise you of this. We would provide you with a quotation before incurring any costs on your behalf.
There are various tax exemptions and allowances that can reduce the size of the estate, and a great deal depends on the terms of the will. With the right legal advice, it is sometimes possible to vary the terms of a will to reduce the amount of tax due.
There can be many other expenses, costs and fees (known as disbursements) related to your matter that are payable to third parties as part of the probate process. We will handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smooth process, but we will ask you for reimbursement in advance, in stages or at the end of the matter.
Here are some of the common fees that may be payable:
- Certainty will search
If you are unsure whether the deceased made a will, we can carry out a search of the national wills database to find out if there is a will and obtain a copy.
- Probate application court fee – £155 + £1.50 for each office copy
This a fee paid to the probate registry office when the application is made.
- Bankruptcy-only land charges department searches – £4 per person
This checks whether the deceased or any of the beneficiaries are currently bankrupt, are an un-discharged bankrupt or are about to be made bankrupt by virtue of any pending court actions.
- Advertisement in The London Gazette – £71.50 plus VAT
This announcement gives the opportunity to relatives, financial institutions and creditors to come forward and make a claim against the estate.
- Advertisement in Local Newspaper – £98.04 plus VAT (subject to local area)
A local announcement to protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors.
- Electronic ID checking fee – ££ per person
This online identification check has to completed as part of our anti-money laundering obligation.
Any property within the estate may need to be sold so that the proceeds can be divided or transferred to the named beneficiaries to make them the new legal owners.
The conveyancing costs and legal fees involved with this work will be charged separately, and be subject to our usual fee schedule, disbursements and stamp duty.
You can use our online conveyancing quote calculator to get an idea of these fees.
On average, estates of an asset value of less than £325,000, where there is no inheritance tax to pay, are dealt with within 6 months. Typically, obtaining the correct grant of representation takes 3. Collecting assets then follows, which takes approximately 2. Once this has been done, we can distribute the assets, which normally takes 1.
However, when dealing with the administration of a more complicated estate, it can take longer to obtain a grant of representation as this requires us to deal with HM Revenue and Customs. It may also take longer to collect and distribute the assets.
Clare Moreton, a member of STEP is available to provide you with FREE initial advice.
Call Clare on: 01245 258 892
Email Clare at: email@example.com.