When dealing with the administration of any Estate there are three main stages as follows:
1 Information Gathering
This involves writing to various organisations to register the death, complying with their individual requirements and obtaining information required to begin completing the probate paperwork. This involves obtaining valuations for any properties comprised in the Estate and valuing any shares, cars and other valuable items owned by the deceased.
2 Completing all forms relevant to your transaction
This involves completing the application for probate and the relevant HM Revenue and Customs forms and submitting to the Probate Registry (where no inheritance tax is payable). Where inheritance tax is due, the HM Revenue and Customs forms that need to be completed are much more complex and initially have to be submitted to the Capital Taxes Office for approval. We would calculate the tax for you and source the funds required to pay the tax which has to be paid within six months from the date of death before the HM Revenue and Customs will authorise us to proceed with the application for probate with the Probate Registry.
As well as dealing with all paperwork, we will deal with any enquiries received from the Probate Registry and/or Capital Taxes Office until we receive a clearance certificate to distribute the Estate.
3 Collection and distribution of Assets
Once probate is granted, to deal with statutory notices in the London Gazette and a local paper (if required), to complete all closure/transfer forms which are all different for the various organisations, to obtain your signatures to these forms and submit with the grant of probate in order to collect all Estate assets. We will then pay all outstanding Estate liabilities. Finally, we will prepare detailed Estate accounts as required by law for approval and signature by the Executors and distribute the assets in accordance with the deceased’s Will.
The above represents a simple summary of all the stages involved when dealing with probate. However, probate work can be complicated because there are many variables that impact on the steps required such as the type and number of assets in the Estate, the number and category of beneficiaries (unfound or charity beneficiaries) and whether steps can be taken to avoid or mitigate any tax payable to name just a few variables of which there can be many.
It can be time consuming as very often we are dependent upon information/responses from third parties such as HM Revenue and Customs, insurance companies, share registrars etc and sometimes there are other variables that involve additional work for example a Will that is not signed properly or is in poor condition.
At this difficult and emotional time, most clients prefer that we deal with the whole process from start to finish. Our fees for this vary depending on whether the Estate is taxable or non taxable.
|Non Taxable Estate||Between £2,500.00 plus VAT to £4,000.00 plus VAT|
|Taxable Estate||Between £4,000.00 plus VAT to £8,000.00 plus VAT|
Our costs can exceed the above figures if there are complications or if there is additional work involved (see below). In such cases, we may charge for the actual time taken based upon our hourly rates. Where we are the appointed executors, we take on personal liability. As such we would charge 0.5% of the value of the deceased’s main residence and 1% of the value of remaining estate (excluding the main residence).
Estates vary considerably as does the work required to administer them. We prefer to deal with the whole process for you to avoid problems and duplication of work. However, at our first meeting we will discuss your individual circumstances and obtain all relevant information from you so we can give you a realistic estimate of total costs. There may be certain practical steps you wish to deal with to keep the legal costs down for example if the deceased has a property, you may wish to deal with the household insurance and utility companies.
Reduced Fixed Fees
If you prefer to do some work yourself, we will agree a reduced fixed fee at our initial meeting. For non taxable Estates, if you only want us to complete the probate forms by dealing with the information gathering stage yourself then we will charge £700.00 plus VAT to obtain the grant of probate for you.
These are the costs payable to third parties such as Probate Registry fees. Typically, the fees are as follows:
|Probate Court Fee *||£155.00 (plus £0.50 for additional sealed copy required)|
|Oath Fee||£5.00 to £7.00 per Executor|
|Bankruptcy Search||£2.00 per beneficiary|
|Telegraphic Transfer Fee||£30.00 plus VAT per transfer|
|Statutory Adverts (optional)||£300.00 (approximately including VAT)|
* There are currently plans for a significant increase in probate court fees from April 2019
Additional Costs (If Applicable)
Although not usually part of the average probate process, there may be other matters/issues that arise during the process for which you may need our help. The following are some examples:
⦁ Additional information/documents need to be obtained and Applications completed to make a claim to transfer any unused Nil Rate sum and/or Residents Nil Rate Band (RNRB) of a spouce who died first so as to reduce/avoid inheritance tax which would otherwise be payable.
⦁ The Executors have died or lack capacity.
⦁ Conduct a search to find out if the deceased had a Will or had made a more recent Will.
⦁ Preparation of a Deed of Variation.
⦁ Valuation from a Chartered Surveyor.
⦁ If there are any assets to collect outside of the UK.
⦁ If there is a large portfolio of shares.
⦁ Making enquiries about beneficiaries or verifying their claims to the Estate.
⦁ Dealing with a claim by the DWP regarding the deceased’s eligibility for means tested benefits received during the decease’s lifetime.
⦁ Dealing with enquiries raised by HM Revenue and Customs regarding the valuation of the Estate/calculation of inheritance tax.
⦁ If the validity of the Will is challenged or a claim is made against the Estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975.
⦁ Obtaining Counsel’s opinion if the terms of the Will are unclear or if the Will is challenged.
⦁ If the Will creates a trust that needs to be implemented.
⦁ If a property needs to be transferred or sold.
How long will it all take?
The law allows Executors up to twelve months to complete the administration. Often referred to as “the Executors year”. Although complex Estates or Estates where inheritance tax is payable can take this long, we aim to complete a non taxable Estate within six to nine months.
The above are guidelines only as some Estates can take considerably longer to complete if there is some sort of challenge or if a property takes a long time to sell or if we are not getting a quick reply from third parties such as HM Revenue and Customs, DWP or even Banks or Insurance companies. However during our initial meeting we will give you a more realistic estimate based upon what is involved in your particular case.