Costs Guidance

Introduction

Dealing with someone’s affairs following their death can often involve a considerable amount of work and no estate administration is exactly the same. For example,  there may  be only one beneficiary, no property to dispose of and only one or two bank accounts to deal with.  Alternatively there may be several beneficiaries, several properties and bank accounts, foreign assets and foreign beneficiaries and inheritance tax to pay amongst other things.  Because of this and the potential complexities we cannot give you  a reliable estimate of the costs of us helping you until we have details of your intended transaction.

If someone dies and has prepared a valid Will, a Grant of Probate may be required to administer their estate. If someone dies without preparing a Will, they die “intestate” and a Grant of Administration may be required to administer their estate. Collectively, these Grants are referred to as Grants of Representation.

How we can help you

We can do as much or as little as you want. Although we are perfectly happy to take full control of the Estate administration for you, we are certainly not here to impose ourselves upon you and your family. We understand that sometimes, family members might want carry out some aspects of the estate administration themselves, but instruct a solicitor to assist with the more complex aspects such as obtaining a Grant of Administration or completing the  inheritance tax return (IHT205) or inheritance tax account (IHT400).  For this reason, we often take a tiered approach to our fees, as described below.

How our costs are broken down

The following costs would be applicable for a straightforward non complex uncontested estate. That is, where no IHT400 is required.

Tier 1 obtaining a Grant of Representation to the Estate only

We would prepare all the necessary paperwork and make the application to the Probate Registry to obtain the Grant of Representation. Under Tier 1, you would need to provide us with the essential information about the deceased’s estate. For instance you would need to provide us with the Will (if there is one), the death certificate and a list of all the deceased’s assets and liabilities including all reference numbers, policy numbers and bank account details. Tier 1 average costs  would be  £800 + VAT at 20%. Disbursements may also apply but these will be detailed below.

Tier 2obtaining a Grant of Representation to the Estate without all the necessary paperwork being provided to us

We would make all the necessary enquiries of the deceased’s estate by contacting all the relevant institutions pertaining to the deceased’s assets and liabilities. Once we have all the required information, we would prepare the necessary paperwork leading to the Grant of Representation. Tier 2 average costs would be  £1,350 + VAT at 20%. Disbursements may also apply but these will be detailed below.

Tier 3full Estate administration

We would handle everything for you from start to finish. It is difficult to itemise everything we would do for you under this Tier as every Estate is essentially different. However during our initial meeting to take instructions, this would be clearly outlined so you know exactly what work we are carrying out for you. Tier 3 would include obtaining the relevant information from institutions to lead to the Grant of Representation, preparing the application for the Grant of Representation (including completion of the IHT205), and completing Estate Administration accounts on completion of the administration for all residuary beneficiaries.  Tier 3 average costs would be £2,750 + VAT at 20%.  Disbursements may also apply but these will be detailed below.

Possible disbursements

Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as Court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. Typical disbursements could include:-

    • Probate court fee of £300
    • Court issued copies of the Grant of Representation – £1.50 each plus VAT at 20%
  • Bankruptcy searches – £2.00 each plus VAT at 20% (except Charitable beneficiaries where no search is required). If there are foreign beneficiaries, the search may be more expensive and would have to be advised at the time instructions were given. The cost is largely dependent on the 3rd party institution proving the service.

*subject to change

Timescales

At present the probate registry official guidance is that a grant of representation (often known as probate) will be issued 16 weeks after an application has been made. They also advise that it is not possible to chase the probate registry until after that 16 week period has elapsed. This has an affect on our timescales.

A tier 1 instruction would take 4 to 8 weeks to prepare for submission (depending on the amount of information provided at the outset). A Tier 2 instruction will take 6 to 12 weeks to obtain this information. A Tier 3 instruction will take anything to 5 months to 24 months to complete. Generally, if a house is involved the administration of the estate will take about 2 to 3 months longer than the house takes to sell.

For Tier 2 and 3 instructions the timescales do depend on other organisations responding which is out of our control.

It should be noted, however, that these are “average times” only. Every matter is different and with every new instruction, unexpected issues may arise. For instance, a distant family member of the deceased who wasn’t included in the Will may “come out of the woodwork”. This would have to be dealt with promptly and professionally and may prolong the administration period. In some cases it is necessary to liaise with HM Revenue & Customs which can be long and protracted also.

Meet our team

Click the links on our website for details of the team who may work on your matter

Christopher Shaw – Trust and Estates Practitioner (TEP), Associate and Head of the Probate Department

Jayne Jackson – Consultant Solicitor

Sarah Steel Associate Legal Executive

They are assisted by Hollie Smith and Holly Earl who will generally be the first people you speak to when you contact us.

In total, our team have in excess of 70 years experience in dealing with numerous non-contested estate administrations, from  straightforward estates to high value  complex estates. Regardless of who works on your matter they will be supervised by the Head of the Probate Department, Chris Shaw.

Within our team we have STEP (the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) and SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) accredited members.

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