Probate Cost Guidelines
Providing an accurate estimate for probate work can be very difficult as the work that needs to be done can vary wildly from estate to estate depending on the complexity of the deceased person’s assets and the way those assets are divided in their Will.
A Grant of Probate is a legal document which confirms that an Executor or Executors have the authority to administer the estate of someone who has died. A Grant will normally be required when the person who has died owns land or property in their sole name and will often be required by a bank before they will allow an Executor to access the deceased’s funds. A Grant of Probate is the most common kind of Grant but there are quite a few different types of Grants and together they are referred to as Grants of Representation.
If you want to administer the estate yourself but want our help to extract the Grant for an estate then we would normally be able to do this for you for £750 + Vat + Expenses (only for non-taxable estates where a full tax return is not required).
(The expenses referred to above would normally total in the region of £165-£180 including the Probate Application fee - £155, Commissioners for Oaths fee – usually £7 per Executor, and court sealed copies of the Grant – 50p per copy)
If you would like us to handle the entire estate from start to finish then please read on.
When dealing with an estate our work would normally include:-
- Reviewing the Will.
- If there is no Will, working with you to establish who inherits the estate under the Intestacy Rules.
- Organising the payment of the funeral from the deceased’s funds.
- Drafting the return of estate information form (IHT205) or Inheritance Tax Return (IHT400).
- When compiling the above forms the consideration of the correct application of the Nil Rate Band, Main Residence Nil Rate Band together with any exemptions and reliefs that may be applicable to the estate.
- Organising the payment of any Inheritance Tax that is due in order to obtain HMRC’s permission to apply for the Grant of Representation.
- Applying for the Grant of Representation
- Dealing with any queries HMRC may have about the estate or the application of any exemptions or reliefs that have been claimed.
- Considering any claims made against the estate.
- Settling any bills that need to be paid during the estate administration period (utility bills etc.)
- Collecting in the assets of the estate and distributing them according to the terms of the Will or the Intestacy Rules as appropriate.
- Identifying assets connected with the deceased that do not pass via the will (such as Joint Tenancy property, life assurance policies or pension lump sum payments) and facilitating their transfer to the ultimate recipients.
- Dealing with any Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax on income received and capital transactions that take place during the estate administration period.
- Preparing a set of Estate Accounts that shows all the assets within the estate at the date of death and all the expenses and receipts since the date of death and the distribution of the estate.
Any estimates we give you would not normally include our fees for the sale of any land or property owned by the deceased person, dealing with income tax returns, capital gains tax returns, Deeds of Variation or other post death variations. If required, we can provide you with a separate estimate for those services.
There are certain factors that can make the distribution of an estate a lot more complicated. That can have the effect of increasing the cost of administering the estate and the length of time it takes to administer the estate. Some common examples of issues that can delay the administration of estates are:-
- Claims against the estate
- When someone contests the Will or makes a claim against the estate including an Inheritance Act (Provision for Family and Dependents) 1975 Act Claim.
- Allegations of improper spending on the deceased’s accounts during their life time.
- If it is not clear exactly what assets or shares of assets the deceased owned or if ownership of an asset is disputed or there is no agreement as to how a co-owned asset is to be dealt with.
- Disputes between Executors (and their co-Executors or with beneficiaries)
- When there are foreign assets owned by the deceased and/or when IHT (or an equivalent tax) is payable in another country as a result of the death.
- Where the deceased was a beneficiary of a trust
- When there are not enough liquid assets within the estate to pay any tax that is due.
- When there are issues with a property that delay its sale (such as condition, mortgageability, & problems with the legal title).
- When there are issues relating to business assets including shares in private companies or partnerships.
- HMRC can take a long time to process and make a determination on the estates where Agricultural Property Relief and/or Business Property Relief is claimed
Unfortunately, there are many different factors that can make the administration of an estate more complicated. Ultimately, we can only give you a clearer estimate once we know more details about the estate and how it is to be divided.
When it comes to the administration of an estate and in recent years we have helped estates by registering the death of the deceased; organising funerals for clients; rehoming pets; organising personal chattels for auctions and organising repair work to a property that was broken into.
We accept that a large part of the job of an executor can be more administrative than legal and when it comes to the administration of an estate we are happy to come to an agreement with you over what we take care of and what you take care of in order to make sure the estate runs smoothly.
We would hope to administer most estates from beginning to end within 6 months to a year however there can be circumstances where estates can take longer than that before things are finalised.
If the estate has small number of assets and/or is divided between a small number of people then our fees would likely be at the lower end of the figures mentioned below. If the estate has a large number of different assets within it and is to be distributed between a large number of beneficiaries then our fees would likely be at the higher end of the figures mentioned below.
For an uncontested estate where there is no tax payable and we are able to use the Return of Estate Information form (IHT205) rather than the full Inheritance tax return (the IHT400) we would expect our likely fees to be in the region of £2,500 to £6,000 + Vat + Expenses. The expenses would include the following: Probate Application fee - £155, Commissioners for Oaths fee – usually £7 per Executor, and court sealed copies of the Grant – 50p per copy. The general estimates above are based on our hourly charging rates which vary between £150-£240 per hour depending on which fee earner had conduct of your file.
If you prefer to have more certainty about what our likely fee would be, we will also agree to administer an estate for a fixed fee with you. Our current rate for this type of approach would be 1.5% of the gross value of the estate + Vat + Expenses. (as noted above)
If you wish to speak to us about an estate then please do call us on 01432 355301.