It is that time of year again and BakerLaw has decided to get a Christmas tree with a cause. On Friday, 7 th December, our Associate and Head of the Private Client Department, Debbie Duggan headed out to the great outdoors in association with the...
Thank you for looking at our probate services. Coping with the death of a person can bring a mixture of emotions and the legal side of dealing with a person’s death can often be overwhelming and confusing. Having compassionate, experienced legal advice can make this difficult situation much easier on you and your loved ones.
Whether the deceased person left a Will or whether there is substantial wealth and property involved, the sense of burden can increase. Where a Will is in existence the Executors will need to apply for the grant of probate which will give them the legal right to administer the estate. Where there is no Will in existence, the Will is invalid, or it does not specify Executor, an Administrator will need to be appointed.
We have an experienced team who can assist you with every aspect of the probate process, reducing the administrative burden and advising sensitively on key decisions which need to be made when managing an estate. We are aware that administering an estate comes at a time of grief and high emotion, and that most people do not know the processes and legal requirements involved.
We will give you a clear time frame of how long probate should take and will keep you and any beneficiaries advised throughout.
You will have the confidence that you are our priority, with our aim being that any member of the team is available to speak with you when you need some clarity and certainty at any stage in the process. We feel this provides reassurance and gives you an outlet for any concerns that you may have. Fees are generally paid out of the estate, so there may not be a need for you to fund the administration.
We are proud to hold Lexcel issued by the Law Society. This involves the firm undergoing a rigorous audit process which ensures we maintain high levels of client care.
The fees involved in a probate matter can vary and this will depend on the individual circumstances involved.
We offer both fixed fees and an hourly rate charging rate, whereby you will be charged for each hour of work undertaken.
Our Probate Services:
Obtaining the Grant of Probate only
We can prepare the necessary probate papers and submit the same to the Court. Once the Grant of Probate has been issued, this will be given to the Executors and they will complete the estate administration.
- Prepare and submit the probate application to the Court
We would not:
- Obtain the probate valuations
- Deal with any part of the estate administration
Our costs are based on the time spent on the matter and the average time can be between 3 and 6 hours depending on the complexity of the estate and whether it is liable to inheritance tax. Our hourly charge is between £200 - £250.00 plus VAT (depending on the experience of the person dealing with the matter).
The fee range is therefore £600 - £1500.00 plus VAT.
One off advice and checking service
This service is aimed at those Executors that are dealing with probate personally and not through a solicitor. We offer a one off fixed fee service that includes an appointment (of up to an hour) together with our advice confirmed in writing. At the meeting we will review the estate’s assets and liabilities, advise you of the steps you need to take to deal with the estate efficiently to ensure all legal obligations are met and answer any questions you have. We can also review the probate papers that have been drafted or, alternatively, can advise you of the forms you need to complete and the information you will need to include.
- Review any related paperwork
- Advise you at the meeting in relation to your specific circumstances (up to one hour)
- Confirm our advice in writing (for you to refer to)
We would not:
- Obtain the Grant of Probate
- Deal with any part of the estate administration
Our costs are fixed at £600 + VAT. There are no disbursements.
Dealing with the whole estate
We offer a service to deal with the whole estate i.e. ensuring every stage of the probate process is completed and all the Executor’s duties have been fulfilled. If we are instructed to deal with the whole estate we deal with all matters from the date of death to conclusion of the estate administration.
- Write to the various third parties to establish a) the value of the estate and b) their requirements.
- Forward the funeral directors’ invoice to the bank for settlement.
- Instruct and liaise a Chartered Surveyor to produce a professional property valuation.
- Instruct and liaise with three estate agents to produce market valuations of the property.
- Arrange for the contents of the property to be valued.
- When the value of the estate is known, we will draft the necessary HMRC forms and Oath for approval.
- When the Grant of Probate is received, we will continue with the administration of the estate and arrange for the assets to be encashed or transferred, as appropriate.
- We will instruct and liaise with our Conveyancing Department to register the property/land in your sole name.
- We will instruct and liaise with our Conveyancing department to sell the property in due course.
- We will arrange for payment of interim distributions from the closing bank balance, if necessary.
- We will place the statutory notices.
- We will arrange a Lost and Dormant Asset Search.
- As part of the administration of the estate it is necessary to formalise the tax position of the estate for both the tax year to the date of death and also the administration period. HMRC will also advise whether they have any other outstanding taxes to be dealt with. Depending on the complexity of the affairs either we will prepare and submit the necessary tax returns, or we will instruct an accountant. If it is necessary to instruct an accountant, we will seek your instructions and ask if you have specific firm you would like us to instruct.
- We will arrange the payment of liabilities and reimbursement of any expenses incurred.
- We will produce estate accounts for the residuary beneficiaries’ approval. The accounts will include details of all capital adjustments, income received and the final distribution calculations.
- Once HMRC have issued us with tax clearance, and the statutory two months’ notice period for the s27 Trustee Act notices has expired, we will make the final distribution to you.
- Arrange the transfer/sale of any property or priorities (additional conveyancing costs apply)
The above list is not exhaustive and the steps may not be required in every estate.
Our costs are based on an hourly charge of either £200 or £250 plus VAT (depending on the level of experience of the person dealing with the matter) and are calculated on the time spent on attendances, preparation, consideration and all forms of communication, i.e. letters, emails and telephone calls, whether made or received.
It is difficult to know the amount of time to be spent on matters as this will depend on the issues that arise, however an approximate cost on an average estate would be in the region of 25 to 35hours. An average estate would include dealing with five asset providers, one property, utility providers, beneficiaries named in the Will, HMRC and DWP.
Fees can therefore range between £5,000.00 - £8,750.00 plus VAT depending on the complexity of the estate, number of accounts and seniority of the person you instruct.
Disbursements (For All Options)
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as Land Registry fees or court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.
Office Copies for the Grant of Probate (per cop)
Oath swear fee (per executor) (approx)
Land Registry Search fee – Office Copy Entries
Bankruptcy Search fee (per beneficiary)
S27 Trustee Act Notices (approx)
Anti-Money Laundering check (per client)
Lost & Dormant Asset Search
Will Search (basic search)
There are various factors that will affect any Inheritance Tax due on an estate, including the size of the estate and any measures that were put in place by the deceased to limit the estates tax liability.
We do not believe that it would be sensible to attempt to provide at this stage an estimate of any tax that may be payable. We would advise you to look on the HMRC website to calculate Inheritance Tax which may be due, the calculators can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/hmrc-tools-and-calculators#inheritance-tax-and-bereavement
In the event that there is no Will or the estate consists of any share holdings (Stocks and Bonds), there is likely to be an additional cost that could range significantly depending on the estate and how it is to be handled. We will discuss this with you in detail and advise of any additional fees.
In the event that additional copies of the Grant of Probate are required, these will be charged at £0.50 per copy or per asset.
The cost of selling or transferring a property is not included in this price, if you require this service, please let us know and we will provide you with an estimate in that regard.
Our fees are fixed and include items detailed above, however there may be factors which would typically increase the cost of the fees involved. Where there is likely to be any additional cost, we will make sure you are informed of this at the earliest opportunity and a clear estimate of those extra costs will be provided.
Additional services that will require the assistance of a third party at additional cost include:
- Tax advice
- Valuations for property, savings, investments or other assets
On average, probate for the typical estate will take between 9 – 18 months. Generally, the time taken to obtain the Grant of Probate will take between 3 - 6 months, followed by the collection of assets and distribution of the estate which can take between 6 - 12 months. The range takes into account handling everything from straightforward estate through to more complex estates.
With every transaction there are key milestones, which may vary according to individual circumstances. They may be as follows:
- Applying for Grant of Probate
- Obtaining Grant of Probate
- Settling Liabilities
- Collecting funds ready for distribution
- Producing Estate accounts
- Distributing funds