Probate and Estate Administration
Range of services
H & C Lawyers have a wealth of experience in advising private clients and their families and offer a range of probate services so you can choose what service and costs best suits your circumstances. This may range from a simple ‘grant only’ application where the personal representatives then take personal responsibility for completing the administration, up to dealing with the whole administration process on your behalf. Our charges will reflect the time required, the level of complexity involved and expertise of the adviser best suited to manage the matter.
The business of administering an estate can be broadly divided into three stages:
- Preparatory work leading to the issue of the grant of representation
- Business undertaken following receipt of the grant (collecting in assets and paying liabilities)
- Winding-up the estate (Distribution)
Probate administration costs estimates
All costs quoted or estimated are exclusive of VAT and disbursements.
Please contact us for accurate costs information.
Time-based costs – hourly rate
Our professional fees can be calculated based on the hourly rates of the fee earner(s) working on the case as follows:
|Fee earner||Charge per hour (ex VAT)|
|Director or equivalent||£200 – 300|
|other Lawyer||£175 – 230|
|Paralegal||£155 – 175|
It will typically take between 10 and 50 hours of professional time to complete the administration of most estates. The administration of a basic estate is likely to be in the region of £3,500 – £5,000 plus VAT whilst very complex estates may be £15,000 plus VAT or above. The exact costs will depend on individual circumstances.
For example, if there is a valid will or simple intestacy, one beneficiary, no property, and no liability to Inheritance Tax (IHT) costs will be at the lower end of the range. If there are multiple beneficiaries, numerous properties, multiple bank accounts, other investments and business interests, and IHT Tax payable, costs will be at the higher end.
It is quite often very difficult to assess the total time that will be taken in the administration of any estate. However, in our experience, a reasonable charge for the winding up of an average estate is 2% of the gross value of the assets in it plus VAT. An average estate for this purpose is where:
- There is a valid Will
- There is no more than one property
- There are no more than five bank and building society accounts
- There are no more than three beneficiaries
- There are no claims or other disputes.
- No inheritance tax (IHT) is payable.
Subject to the terms of any Will, costs can be reduced if family members are prepared to help with non-legal tasks such as clearing personal and household items, meeting with estate agents and dealing with utilities. These aspects are often time consuming but do not usually require our legal expertise.
Value-based costs – fixed rate
As an alternative, we are happy to discuss the provision of a full-service fixed fee based on a percentage of the gross value of assets to which the deceased was entitled at the date of their death*;
|0 – £100,000||2||Minimum £1,000|
|£100,000 – £250,000||2||£2,000 – £5,000|
|£250,000 – £500,000||1.25||£3,125 – £6,250|
|£500,000 – £1,000,000||1.25||£6,250- £12,500|
|£1,000,000 plus||1||£10,000 plus|
Disbursements (see below) and VAT apply.
*based on gross estate for IHT purposes which includes the value of the deceased’s share in any jointly owned property.
Grant only service
We offer a fixed fee service to obtain the grant of probate only on the following basis:
|Grant only. All information provided. Non-taxable estate (IHT205 only)||£750 – £1,000|
|Grant only. H & C compiling estate information. Non-taxable estate||£1,000 – £2,500|
Our grant only service is subject to a minimum fee of £750 plus VAT and disbursements (see below), and is not available where IHT is payable on any estate (i.e. an “excepted” estate for IHT purposes).
Full service retainer
The following elements of advice and activity will generally be included in our probate retainer with the personal representatives of an estate:
- advise the executors or administrators on their duties;
- advise on the terms of the will/or the intestacy rules which apply;
- notify creditors and the appropriate authorities (i.e. HMRC) of the death;
- verify the assets and liabilities of the estate and organising any specialist tax valuations;
- identify and communicate with beneficiaries;
- advise on suitable arrangements where beneficiaries have died, lack capacity, cannot be located or are under age to receive their interest;
- investigate whether a transferable nil rate band may be claimed and obtain the necessary information and documents to claim a transferable nil rate band;
- prepare the necessary IHT forms;
- advise on available exemptions and arranging payment of calculated IHT;
- preparation of probate documentation for swearing;
- place any necessary statutory advertisements;
- once probate has been granted collect in the assets of the estate;
- deal with income tax and capital gains tax (CGT) compliance issues;
- pay liabilities and administration expenses;
- submit corrective accounts for IHT, agree the final liability and obtain clearance for all personal taxers;
- pay legacies and undertake the necessary bankruptcy searches;
- make interim payments or transfer assets to residuary beneficiaries;
- prepare estate accounts for approval;
- make final payments to the residuary beneficiaries; and
- preparing tax certificates for the residuary beneficiaries.
Unless agreed otherwise, the following elements are not generally included in our probate retainer as these items are typically outside of the scope of a standard estate administration. We would however be pleased to assist you with these matters, and will be happy to provide costings;
- dealing with any claim made by the Benefits Agency in relation to the Deceased’s eligibility for means tested benefits which the deceased had received during their lifetime;
- making enquiries about missing beneficiaries or verifying their claims to the estate;
- advising the trustees of any trusts which are set up or benefit under the will; (the ongoing administration of any such trust will form the subject of a separate retainer);
- claiming monies due from life assurance policies held in trust or from pension death in service arrangements held in trust;
- any contentious matter. For example, this includes any dispute or claim with HMRC or any claim against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975;
- the legal work involved in the sale or transfer of any property. Our Conveyancing team will be pleased to handle this and they will inform you of the likely costs involved;
- arranging for the winding up of any private company, partnership or sole trade;
- advising the beneficiaries (e.g. providing investment or tax advice i.e. a Deed of Variation for tax planning or other strategic purpose). We would be pleased to assist the beneficiaries with these matters, and will be happy to provide costings for the work involved.
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees and typically include: –
- Probate application fee of £165 (including official copies)
- £7 swearing of the oath (per executor/administrator)
- Bankruptcy-only Land Charges Department searches (£5 per beneficiary)
- £500 – various statutory notices under the Trustee Act designed to protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors.
How long will this take?
It is difficult to predict how long the administration of any estate will take because this varies depending on the assets, and matters involved and the information provided, although an average estate can typically take between 9 – 12 months to complete.
Where a grant is required, we aim to extract this from the court within 6 – 12 weeks of being instructed, although this may take longer where IHT is payable or any information (for example, professional specialist valuations) is required.
For more information on this or any other private client matter please contact
Stephen C Haggett, Director
Tel: 01822 614461