When we refer to probate this is shorthand for the legal process involved in collecting all the money, property and other assets belonging to a deceased person, paying all the liabilities of the deceased and distributing what remains in accordance with the terms of the deceased’s will or the intestacy rules applicable if the deceased left no will.
These are the key stages to probate:
1. Obtaining the information required to calculate the value of the estate at the date of death of the deceased.
2. Preparing the inheritance tax return appropriate to the value of the estate and where necessary arranging for the payment of the inheritance tax due. Details of how much inheritance tax you can expect to pay are available from HMRC at https://www.gov.uk/inheritance-tax.
3. Apply for the grant of representation. In most cases, this will be a grant of probate, where the deceased has executed a valid will, or a grant of letters of administration , where the deceased has not executed a valid will. Following the grant being issued the work involved in probate may include selling any flats or houses or other land owned by the deceased ; selling any shares owned by the deceased or other investments; arranging for the closure of any bank, building society or similar accounts and the release of any life assurance policy proceeds to the beneficiary nominated under the policy; paying off any debts owed by the deceased including any outstanding taxes; inserting advertisements in appropriate newspapers for anyone who may have a claim against the estate (for example, as a beneficiary or creditor); and our costs incurred in connection with the probate. We would arrange for any assets not sold as part of the probate to be transferred to those beneficiaries entitled under the will and any remaining monies to be distributed to those beneficiaries entitled under the will.
1. Our costs will be charged on an hourly basis with a minimum charge of £1,000 plus VAT. For a typical probate involving an estate with a gross value (i.e. before deduction of debts) not exceeding £1m with the work which we have described above we would estimate our charges to be £10,000 plus VAT plus disbursements. Our estimate is based on hourly rates as follows: partner £325, solicitor who is not a partner £235 to £285, trainee solicitor £155. If a partner acts as an executor of the estate, that partner’s time spent on fulfilling the role will be charged, in addition to the above minimum fee, at the rate for a partner mentioned above.
2. Excluded from the estimate given in the previous paragraph are sales of flats or houses or other land. These will be charged in addition in accordance with the costs information relating to conveyancing displayed on this website.
3. In respect of an estate with a gross value in the range £1m to £5m there will be an additional charge of 0.25% of the gross value in excess of £1m plus VAT (i.e. £10,000 plus VAT).
4. In respect of an estate with a gross value in the range £5m to £10m there will be an additional charge of 0.125% of the gross value in excess of £5m plus VAT (i.e. £6,250 plus VAT). This will be additional to the charge calculated on an hourly basis (see C.1 above) and the additional charge of £10,000 plus VAT (see C. 3 above).
5. In respect of an estate with a gross value in excess of £10m there will be an additional charge of 0.0625% of the gross value in excess of £10m plus VAT (i.e. £625 plus VAT per £1,000,000). This will be additional to the charge calculated on an hourly basis (see C.1 above) and the charges of £10,000 plus VAT (see C.3 above) and £6,250 plus VAT (see C.4 above).
We would anticipate completing the probate of a very straightforward estate consisting of any bank accounts and other investments which can be easily liquidated within a few months or if property needs to be sold or other assets which cannot be sold immediately possibly up to a year.
A more complicated estate involving the sale of several properties may take longer than a year or if HMRC chooses to conduct an investigation into the estate because it does not agree all the valuations of assets at the date of death in the inheritance tax return. Some estates will be more complicated if the deceased owned their own business or they had created trusts during their lifetime or benefited under a trust or held any property or assets not in the United Kingdom.
We will determine when we take instructions from you as to whether or not these potential complications will apply and will advise you accordingly of the basis upon which we will charge you for this additional work and the additional disbursements likely to be required to be paid.
A fee will need to be paid to the Probate Registry on estates with a gross value of £5,000 or more. Currently this is £155 if a solicitor files the application and £215 if an individual does so. Please note, however, that this is scheduled to increase substantially for estates worth over £50,000 from April 2019.
Typically, advertisements in newspapers will cost between £150 and £200 plus VAT.
All work will be carried out by a partner with over 30 years post qualification experience in the field of probate together with assistance from a solicitor who is not a partner or a trainee solicitor as necessary. All work will be supervised by a partner.