Probate fees

 

Fees Transparency Initiative

We have published guidance about our fees since 2011. Our regulator (the SRA) now insists all law firms publish information about fees. The SRA only regulate part of the legal services market. Many commercial legal advice services operate without any insurance or regulation. Any person can offer legal services without qualifications whatsoever. Sadly many people find out that this is to the detriment of themselves and their families.

We also make clear that our service is to provide advice, not to sell you something that is not in your best interest.

As is clear elsewhere on our website, we offer a range of advice. We can provide the following guidance explanation about the likely costs that might be involved.

When someone dies

The SRA has asked us to provide an example of fees and timescales where the deceased owned assets only in the UK and there is no dispute in the estate.

In general, we offer 3 levels of service/assistance

  1. Initial advice only. We provide up to 1 hours advice in person to the people who intend to administer the estate at a fixed fee of £200 + VAT.
    What is involved?

    An interview to which you bring the death certificate, the most recent Will (if there is a Will) and an idea about what assets and debts the deceased person had. We can advise on how best to get started and what possible difficulties can be foreseen.

    How long?

    We meet you for up to 1 hour and write to you to summarise our discussion/advise.

  2. Obtaining the Grant of Probate (where there is a Will) or Letters of Administration (where there is no Will). This means we have no further involvement/role once we obtain the Probate or Letters of Administration. Fees are fixed as follows:-

    – £725 plus VAT – where the value of the estate before debts, is less than £325,000 (and no IHT is due)
    – £1,450 plus VAT where the value of the estate before debts, is less than £1,000.000 (and no IHT is due)
    – £2,250 plus VAT – in all other cases or where IHT is due.

    What is involved?

    For an estate which is not liable to IHT, we can agree with you the appropriate level of enquiry into assets and liabilities, compile the HMRC account form and the Probate Registry Oath. We meet with you to complete those documents and to apply to obtain the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. For an estate which is liable to IHT we also organise how to pay the initial IHT instalments.

    How long?

    From first instruction to obtaining the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration, typically 8-10 weeks.

    Unless stated, we do not verify the assets and liabilities of the estate but rely instead on figures that you provide.

  3. Full administration

    We can work to capped fees (subject to a minimum of £1,600 plus VAT) based on 1.6% plus VAT of the value of the estate before deducting debts. So, on an estate of £250,000, our maximum fee (ie the “capped” will be £4,000 plus VAT). For estates over £500,000 our capped fee is 1% plus VAT.

    In this service the tasks we include in our fees are:-

    – Verifying the values of assets and liabilities
    – Advising the executors/administrators of their duties
    – Assessing liability to IHT (if relevant)
    – Enquiry into the income tax position of the deceased
    – Informing beneficiaries of their likely entitlements
    – Advising on security of property and personal effects of the deceased
    – Enquiry into continuance of property insurance
    – Preparing the Oath and HMRC form together forming the application for Probate
    – Making the appropriate application
    – Collecting in or transferring assets to beneficiaries
    – Generally distributing the estate

    How long?

    This is hard to predict as it depends on many factors—-more complex or extensive the estate then the longer it will take. As a very rough guide most estates are complete within 1 year.

    Expenses not included are:-

    – Probate application fee £155 – £165 but see .gov website as these are about to be reviewed (December 2018).
    – Oath fees £7 – £21 bankruptcy fees £2 per beneficiaries
    – London Gazette creditors notice (against unknown creditors) say £200 local newspaper creditors notice (unknown creditors)
    – Land Registry title copies (as necessary) typically £6 per property
    – Genealogist fees (to trace beneficiaries) but usually these are charged as % of that persons share of the estate
    – Land Registry fees for registering title property to a beneficiary typically £40 – £220

    Additional costs

    – Dealing with a sale of a property (see property sales) what is not included in the capped fee quoted might be the following
    – Disputes over the Will or entitlements in the estate
    – The administration of Trusts in the estate
    – Clarifying the interpretation of a Will or it validity
    – Disputes over ownership of assets
    – Multiple/high value personal possessions
    – More than 10 beneficiaries of the estate
    – Multiple private share holdings in the valuation of sale
    – Foreign property

If any of these factors arise, a fee will need to be negotiated and revised as events unfold.