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Wills, Probate & Estate Administration

Planning for the inevitable is something we all think about from time to time. We all say to ourselves that we will do something about it but, all too often, we put it to one side and get on with our lives.

Making a Will and getting your affairs in order is essential to make sure that you do things as efficiently as possible and that the maximum assets can pass to those that you want them to, with the minimum amount of fuss and expense.

We have many years’ experience in giving specialist advice to clients on a range of areas including:

Probate Explained

What is probate?

Probate is the process whereby someone applies for the legal right to deal with the affairs of a person who has died.

Many people assume that making a Will means that there will be “no need for probate.” Actually this is not the case.

Executors named in a Will apply for a Grant of Probate if, for example, the person who died owned a property in their sole name or had a sizeable amount of savings. Although Probate is the term most often used, if there isn’t a Will then Administrators apply for Letters of Administration.

What do we do?

We will do whatever you like from providing half an hour’s free advice to an all-round service where we value the assets in estate, complete the Inheritance Tax return, apply for the Grant of Probate, trace beneficiaries, pay bills, prepare Estate Accounts and distribute the estate. We find that some Personal Representatives are happy and confident enough to do the work themselves. Other clients simply do not have the time or the desire to administer an estate.

Whether we apply for probate or not, we will be happy to give you a quote for dealing with the sale or transfer of any property.

How we charge and how long will it take?

Some clients ask us to simply obtain Probate. They provide us with the Will (if the deceased made one), details of the assets and we prepare a short Inheritance Tax return and an Oath for Executors or Administrators. We obtain Probate and give this to the client who will then collect and distribute the assets between the beneficiaries. For this we charge a fixed fee of £350.00 plus VAT. In addition the client pays disbursements. Disbursements are costs which we pay to third parties. In a case of this kind the client will also pay the Probate fee of £156.00 (which includes two copies of the Grant) and a swearing fee which is £7.00 per Executor or £5.00 per Administrator. A typical total fee is, therefore, £583.00. There are potential additional costs.*

On average this type of case will take 8 weeks.

For clients who ask us to administer an estate from start to finish, our charges will depend on what we do and are charged at an hourly rate of £201.00. We are happy to advise you what you can do yourself which will keep down the cost.

Typically a straightforward estate with, say, one Executor, a property, two bank accounts and two beneficiaries will cost £750.00 plus VAT. The client will also pay the Probate fee of £156.00, an oath fee of 7.00 and two bankruptcy fees of £4.00. This makes a grant total of £1,067.00. There are potential additional costs.*

On average this type of case will take 12 weeks.

Estates with more Executors, more assets and more beneficiaries will cost more to deal with. Typically to administer a more complicated estate will cost between £1,500.00 to £5,000.00 plus VAT and plus disbursements. There are potential additional costs.*

On average this type of case will take 6 to 12 months. HMRC allow you 6 months to pay Inheritance Tax. This is a useful guide as to how long HMRC think it will take Executors to value what is often a complicated estate and be in a position to pay the Tax.

*Please bear in mind that we will endeavour to identify the work that needs to be done at the outset of a case. Most cases are straightforward. However, some are not. These are some of the things for which there is likely to be additional cost or disbursement:

  • Locating the Will.
  • Checking that the Will we have is the most recent.
  • Obtaining evidence as to the validity of the Will.
  • Preparing a renunciation if an Executor does not wish to take up their role.
  • Preparing a notice to an Executor who wishes to have power reserved to them.
  • Obtaining documents such as death certificates or decree absolute of divorce.
  • Placing notices in the local paper and London Gazette.
  • Preparing a long form Inheritance Tax Return.
  • Paying Inheritance Tax.
  • Obtaining evidence of due execution of a Will if there is a query or a problem.
  • Disputes between Executors or between beneficiaries.
  • Applying for an interim Grant.
  • Claims against the estate and contentious probate.

Disputes about Wills are becoming more common. Our litigation department can help you with disputing a Will.

Home visits are available for those who find it difficult to come and see us.

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