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Probate and Administration

Probate or grant of letters of administration, - our services

Here we outline what is involved in a grant of probate or letters of administration, what it is likely to cost, how long it will take and who will carry out the work.

What is involved in a probate or grant of letters of administration?

The term “probate” tends to be used to describe the process whereby a deceased person’s affairs are dealt with by an executor or an administrator and comes from the “Grant of Probate” which is the legal document that must be obtained by the executor (an administrator – who is responsible for the estate where there is no will gets a document called “Letters of Administration”) in order to gain access to the affairs of the deceased.

Although it is possible for an individual to undertake the process themselves, it can be complicated and time-consuming, especially if there are a large number of beneficiaries (people receiving gifts) or the value of the estate is a particularly high or there are a lot of different types of investments. That is why having the matter dealt with by an experienced solicitor is often the route chosen by many people.

As with much of legal work, the amount that we will need to do to deal with a grant of probate or the administration of an estate will depend upon the complexity of the estate and what is required. A simple estate, therefore, comprising only a house in the sole name of the deceased person, and a bank/building society account with the whole estate being left to a single child of the deceased person will require far less work than if there are multiple properties, several bank or building society accounts, shares, investments, insurance policies, business interests and a range of beneficiaries.

Please be assured that we will always advise you to the best of our ability at the outset as to the likely complexity of the matter and try at all times to ensure that it is handled as expeditiously as possible.

The actual individual tasks that we will need to undertake will vary from transaction to transaction. However, the work to be carried out could include:
  • Taking your initial instructions and either advising you on the terms of the deceased’s will and discussing the duties of the executors or advising you as to how the estate will be administered where there is no will (referred to as an “intestacy”);
  • Obtaining a valuation of the estate (which could include houses, possessions, bank and building society accounts, insurance policies and shares) and working out whether there are any liabilities. This might involve:
    • writing to utility providers such as gas, electricity and telephone providers;
    • dealing with council tax;
    • dealing with house insurance (and in particular making sure that it does not lapse following the death);
    • writing to share registrars and others responsible for any investments; and
    • gathering together details of any bank accounts;
  • Once we have a value for the estate, we will prepare the Inheritance Tax form and Oath for Executors (application for the Grant) and work out the Inheritance Tax (if any) that the estate will need to pay;
  • Sending the Inheritance Tax forms to HMRC and then arranging the first payment of Inheritance Tax from the assets of the estate. Once this has been done, we can then submit the application for the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration;
  • Once we have the Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration id there was no will), sending it, and any relevant letters of authority, to the various banks, insurers, financial institutions, and managers of investment in order to collect in the assets and discharge any liabilities;
  • Taking any further steps needed in relation to Inheritance Tax and obtaining a clearance certificate from HMRC;
  • Making any necessary arrangements to sell or transfer any property such as houses, possessions etc. If these have been left to specific individuals these will be transferred to those individuals – otherwise they will be sold for the benefit of the estate;
  • Arranging any necessary statutory notices for creditors in the London Gazette/local press;
  • Identifying and then corresponding with beneficiaries regarding the distribution of the estate and paying any interim legacies or any pecuniary legacies that are due under the will or intestacy;
  • Preparing Estate Accounts for executors/administrators;
  • Carrying out bankruptcy checks for beneficiaries;
  • Ultimately paying out the final balances as appropriate.

What are the costs?

In dealing with any Private Client matter the costs will vary and will depend upon a variety of factors, including the time we spend attending upon you and others, preparing documents, Accounts, Inland Revenue Returns, letters, making and receiving telephone calls and emails. The complexity or urgency of the particular matter, the skill, expertise and responsibility involved in dealing with the case, the importance of the matter to the client and amount or value of the assets or property involved.

The costs involved will depend upon what work is required. This could be limited to making an application for a grant of probate (after which the Client deals with administering the Estate) or our assistance can extend to the full administration of the Estate, to the point of paying out all of the beneficiaries and providing you with final accounts.

Because every case is different it is very difficult to estimate the amount of work required to complete the matter. This can vary depending on the number of assets to be gathered, how promptly replies are received from asset holders, Inheritance Tax or other Taxes to be paid, and whether the Estate is subject to any claim, as well as other variables.

Our Hourly Rates

In certain cases, the charges may be calculated mainly by reference to the time spent by the Solicitor dealing with the matter. We set out below the categories of staff in the Private Client Department, and their hourly rate, which is subject to VAT (at 20% shown in brackets):

Solicitor Position Hourly Rate (Excluding VAT) (£) Hourly Rate (Including VAT @ 20%) (£)
John Mohamed Solicitor/Director £205.00 £246.00
Joy Gear-Evans Solicitor/Director £205.00 £246.00
Anne O'Malley Solicitor £195.00 £234.00

    Applying for Grant of Probate Only

    Please see our Private Client Costs Fees Guide below.

    In "Grant Only" matters you provide us with the information to enable us to prepare the documents required for submission to the Probate Registry, including valuations, balances, on accounts etc. Our instructions are limited to preparing the application forms for a grant representation and submitting the same to the Probate Registry. If we do not deal with administering the Estate assets, this would be undertaken by the Client, in which case our fees would be between £750.00 - £950.00 (plus VAT at 20%) and disbursements.

    The estimate is based on the following:

    • There is no requirement for a full Inheritance Tax submission to HMRC
    • There is no Inheritance Tax payable
    • The deceased left a Will and there is no dispute as to its validity
    • There are no contested claims against the Estate
    • There are no other issues which would incur additional unexpected work
    Service Our Fees (Excluding VAT) (£) Our Fees (Including VAT @ 20%) (£)
    Fixed Fee Consultation (Advice & Assistance) £200.00 £240.00
    Applying for Grant of Probate only from £750.00 to £950.00 £900.00 to £1,140.00
    Applying for Grant of Probate & Administration of the Estate (not in excess of £250,000 gross and depending on the complexity and value of the estate) £2,000.00 to £3,000.00 £2,400.00 to £3,600.00
    Lasting Power of Attorney £300.00 £360.00

    Obtaining the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration and Fully Administering the Estate

    In fully administering the Estate we would establish the value of the Estate's assets, and details of all liabilities, which enable us to prepare an Inland Revenue Account which has to be lodged with H.M. Revenue & Customs, and a statement which needs to be lodged with the Probate Court when applying for the Grant of Representation. If the Estate is subject to Inheritance Tax, then arrangements will need to be made to pay all or part of the Tax payable (depending on the type of assets in the Estate) on submission of the application for the Grant of Representation.

    Once the Grant of Representation is obtained we will register this to enable us to realise all of the assets, we will settle the Estate's liabilities, arrange property transfers and we will prepare Estate Accounts for the Client's approval. We will distribute the Estate in accordance with the terms of the Will or Intestacy rules. If Inheritance Tax is payable we will deal with H.M. Revenue & Customs and obtain a Clearance Certificate.

    High Value and Complex Estates - Fees

    In higher value or complex Estates, our costs are calculated in accordance with the guidance issued by the Law Society. Such costs are based on a reduced hourly rate to cover the costs of the Practice in providing the service and also upon the value of the Estate. The hourly rate is £130 (our "expense rate") + VAT at 20%.

    The element based upon the value of the Estate assets and the property with which we have to deal reflects the importance of the matter and the higher potential risk and responsibility falling upon the Practice. The relevant costs are calculated as a percentage of the value of the assets being 1% of the gross value of the Estate before taxes (+ VAT at 20%) but excludes the value of any residence of the deceased, in which case the rate is 0.5% (+ VAT at 20%).

    The value of any jointly owned assets within the Estate is reduced by 50%.

    Probate Disbursements

    In addition to our costs we will be required to pay certain fees, such as Court fees, Oath fees, fees for official copies of Probate documents and Land Registry fees. Standard fees (or disbursements as we call them)in an Estate administration often include:

    Standard fees (or disbursements as we call them) in an Estate administration often include:

    • Probate Registry Fee (No VAT) - If the value of the estate is over £5,000, the application fee is £273.00. There’s no fee if the estate is £5,000 or less.
    • Probate Registry Fee for further copies of the grant of Probate or Letters of Administration - £1.50 per copy. No VAT.
    • Bankruptcy Search - £2.00 per search. No VAT.
    • Adverts in The London Gazette – Protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors - £150.00 – £200.00 (plus VAT at 20%).
    • Adverts in a Local Newspaper – This also helps to protect against unexpected claims - £150.00 - £200.00 (plus VAT at 20%).
    • Assets Search – comprehensive search for unknown assets - £155.00 (plus VAT at 20%).
    • Statutory searches - £2.00 per beneficiary (No VAT)
    • Valuation fees - dependent entirely on the type of asset being valued (e.g., realty, shares, chattels, art works) – likely to include VAT at 20%.

    Potential additional costs

      • If there is no will or the estate consists of any share holdings (stocks and bonds) there is likely to be additional costs that could range significantly depending on the estate and how it is to be dealt with. We can give you a more accurate quote once we have more information.
      • Dealing with the sale or transfer of any property in the estate is not included. Please see our conveyancing fees for further information.
      • Setting up a trust - £1,000.00 - £1,500.00 + VAT at 20%

    Transferring property to trustees - £300.00 + VAT at 20%.

    How long will it take?

    We will always try and make sure that any probate or administration takes no longer than is absolutely necessary. We know that it is frustrating when, as a beneficiary, you are waiting for an estate to be finalised. We will never take longer than we have to in order to deal with matters and please bear in mind that often the time taken will be dictated by factors outside of your or our control.

    For a simple probate matter, estates are usually dealt with within 3-6 months. Typically, obtaining the grant of probates takes 4-8 weeks. Collecting assets then follows, which can take between 2-6 weeks. Once this has been done, we can prepare estate accounts and distribute the assets, which normally takes 2-4 weeks. More complex probates can take considerably longer as there are potentially tax issues which can arise and delays often result when dealing with HMRC.

    We will always make sure that you are kept up to date with what is happening. Some of the factors that can make a matter take longer include:

    • Problems as to the validity of the will and the claims of competing wills;
    • Cooperation from family, executors and beneficiaries;
    • Where enquiries need to be made to identify beneficiaries;
    • Obtaining the death certificate and/or arranging the funeral.
    • Issues affecting the property of the deceased including for example house clearance, insurance claims, making the property safe or problems with overseas properties;
    • Complicated estates which have multiple accounts or properties and complex financial planning;
    • Foreign assets – especially those where we need to obtain grants in other countries to deal with property;
    • Business the deceased was involved in at the date of death or farming assets;
    • Complex trusts;
    • Locating missing beneficiaries and obtaining missing beneficiary insurance where appropriate;
    • Dealing with tax;
    • Dealing with property sales and
    • Preparing any deeds of variation of the terms of a will.

    There are many factors that can influence how long a probate will take to deal with. Often simply the length of time that others take to respond can be a significant factor and usually we will have little or no ability to change this.

    Bear in mind also that we will not be able to finalise an estate until all claims on the estate have been received. Anyone wishing to make a claim on the estate has six months from the date probate is granted to make such a claim against the estate. For this reason, we suggest that the process is going to take at least eight months to a year.

    If the deceased person died without having made a will and we, therefore, have to deal with the estate under what is known as “the intestacy rules”, then it is likely that the process will take even longer as we will need to establish who the beneficiaries are.

    Who will do the work?

    The work will be undertaken by a qualified solicitor from our team, all of whom have significant experience in dealing with such matters. This includes:

    Joy Gear-Evans

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    Anne O'Malley

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