PROBATE / ESTATE ADMINISTRATION FEES

PROBATE FEES

Introduction 

In this section we provide information on Probate / Estate Administration Fees as follows:

  • Our Approach 

  • Payment of Legal Fees

  • Grant Application and Estate Administration

  • Information on Legal Fees

  • Information on Additional Costs

  • Time Frames

Our Approach

We are committed to providing expert legal support for you and your family.

As part of this commitment we aim to provide clear costs information that is relevant to your situation at the earliest possible opportunity. We want you to be able to make an informed decision. To enable us to do this we offer the following:

  • You are welcome to contact us to arrange a free initial consultation. During this initial meeting we gather from you as much information as we can about the estate;

  • Once we have received full information on the estate, understand what your priorities are, and have a clear understanding of the aspects you would like help with, we can provide a fee estimate.

We are also flexible: we can help as much or as little as you would like us to. For example, we can provide you with advice in relation to specific issues, we can complete the grant of representation application on your behalf, or assist you with the entire estate (i.e. acting on your behalf in completing the grant application and administering the estate). Please just let us know what we can do to help.

Payment of Legal Fees

We are often asked where legal fees are payable from: in most situations legal fees are payable from the estate. If you would like to discuss this further with us, please let us know.

Grant Application and Estate Administration

There are typically two main stages when dealing with the estate of someone who has died: obtaining the grant of representation and administering the estate.  

Typical items of work required for each stage are as follows (where the assets are wholly in the UK, the estate is uncontested, and the deceased was domiciled in the UK):

Applying for the Grant of Representation

  • Locating and reviewing any will(s) and codicil(s) and checking the scope and validity of the documents;

  • Gathering information on the assets and liabilities of the deceased at the date of death including corresponding with asset holders and creditors and obtaining valuations where necessary;

  • Completing a dormant asset search;

  • Considering the deceased’s lifetime income tax position (including liaising with the deceased’s accountant - or instructing an accountant, if required - to ensure that a tax return is prepared to the date of death);

  • Preparing the Inheritance Tax account, submitting this to HMRC and arranging for the Inheritance Tax to be paid; and

  • Drafting the documentation to apply for the grant of representation and submitting this to the Probate Registry.

Administering the Estate

  • Collecting assets and settling liabilities;

  • Paying legacies;

  • Arranging for adverts for creditors to be placed;

  • Compiling estate accounts;

  • Responding to any queries raised by HMRC in relation to the Inheritance Tax account and obtaining Inheritance Tax clearance;

  • Preparing tax returns to the date of death and for the administration period; and

  • Distributing the residuary estate.

Information on Legal Fees

Our fee estimates are calculated with reference to the time required to assist you in the administration. 

As noted above we will provide you with a fee estimate specific to your circumstances once we have obtained the relevant information from you.

Although the exact costs will depend on the specific circumstances of your case, the following information provides some general guidance: 

  • Our average costs for preparing the grant of representation application are £1,500 - £3,000 (plus VAT); and

  • Our average costs for administering an estate are £3,000 – 4,500 plus VAT.

Please note these are not fee estimates. The fee estimate may be significantly less, or indeed significantly more, than this, depending on factors such as the complexity of the estate and the work that you would like us to do.

We may charge an additional fee if you require your matter to be completed urgently.

Information on Additional Costs

Additional Work – Legal Fees

You may require assistance with work related to the estate such as implementing and advising on the terms of a trust arising under the Will.  

We would be very happy to assist with any work which falls within our areas of expertise - and can provide a separate fee estimate for such work.

Disbursements

Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties. Disbursements are not included in our legal fees. 

Examples of typical disbursements include:

  • Probate Registry fees (currently £155) – please see the important note on this below

  • Swear fee (£7 per personal representative)

  • Land Registry Bankruptcy Search fees (£3)

  • Costs of advertising for creditors (usually in the region of £250 - £300 plus VAT)

Third parties may also need to be instructed to assist in relation to specific aspects of the administration, such as:

  • A surveyor to value a property

  • An accountant to review whether a particular relief is applicable to a business

  • Conveyancing costs for selling a property

 

Costs for such services are separate from our legal fees. 

Taxes

Our legal fees above are shown exclusive of VAT.

All taxes payable by the estate (such as Inheritance Tax, Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax) are also separate to our legal fees.

Probate Registry Fee Increase Update

The government proposed legislation in 2018 (the Non-Contentious Probate Fees Order 2018) to dramatically increase the probate registry fee application from £155 (for probate applications made by solicitors) and £215 (for applications made by individuals) to fees on a sliding scale of up to £6,000 depending on the size of the estate.

It was initially expected that the new fees would be in place by the start of April 2019. The required legislation, however, remained in draft form and in September 2019 Ministers decided to let the proposed legislation lapse. Should the Government want to proceed with the fee increase they would have to reintroduce the vote in the next session.

For additional information, see Law Society press release: Lapse of probate fee hike huge relief for newly bereaved.

Time Frames

​Time frames can vary significantly as each estate is different. When we have received full information on your matter we can provide an estimate of time frames.

As a general guide please note the following:

  • Applications for grants of representation usually take between two to four months to prepare; and

  • Administering the estate (following receipt of the grant) usually takes between four to six months to complete.

Please note time frames can be shorter or longer than this. Time frames may be longer due to a variety of reasons beyond our control including delays in obtaining responses from third parties or new information coming to light. 

We will update you on time frames however if they are to change over the course of the matter, and provide the reasons for this.

HMRC and Probate Registry processing times from the date of submission of the relevant documents are as follows (although please note that these time frames may also be impacted by the complexity of the estate):

  • HMRC: Between 4 to 8 weeks to issue form IHT421 confirming receipt of the Inheritance Tax account and any Inheritance Tax due; and

  • The Probate Registry: Between 4 to 8 weeks to issue the grant of representation.

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111 Gloucester Road, Bristol, BS7 8AT

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