Probate

 

We know that the loss of a loved one is a traumatic and difficult time.  We can provide advice and support, particularly in interpreting the Will if one has been left, or on the Rules of Intestacy if there is no Will.

Our Probate practitioners have in excess of forty years of experience in administering estates, and will make every effort to progress matters sympathetically and professionally for you without unnecessary delays and without causing you undue distress. However, estate administration can be a complex matter, particularly if there is no Will, or if there is a potential Inheritance Tax liability. We offer a full estate administration service, including:


·        advice on the terms of the Will or Rules of Intestacy

·        advice on Inheritance Tax and Reliefs

·        applying for the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration

·        encashing assets and claiming amounts due under Life Policies

·        paying liabilities

·        finalising Income Tax affairs to the date of death and during the administration period

·        paying legacies

·        dealing with HM Revenue & Customs in finalising Inheritance Tax

·        advice and preparation of Deed of Variation, if one is required

·        distributing the Estate in accordance with the Will or Rules of Intestacy, after preparation of estate accounts


 Our normal charging rate  for non-contentious  Probate matters (i.e. where there are no potential claims against the estate) is £175.00 per hour exclusive of VAT. We normally anticipate that administration of a straight-forward estate will take some ten to thirty hours of work.  A typical estimate would therefore be in the range of £2000.00 to £5000.00 plus VAT and disbursements. However, if the estate is more complex, for example if there is no Will and beneficiaries have to be located, or if the assets are such that there is an Inheritance tax liability and therefore a long Inheritance Tax Return is required, then it may take significantly more of our time, and therefore increase the costs. A straightforward matter where there is a Will, a property,  a couple of bank accounts and one beneficiary  would be at the lower end of the costs range. On the other hand, an estate comprising multiple bank and building society accounts, more than one property, as well as numerous holdings in stocks and shares is clearly more complex and will take more of our time and therefore cost more. We will be able to provide you with a more precise costs estimate when we have full details of the estate. We will also review your matter periodically, and will advise you if our estimate needs revision, as well as the reasons for this.

In addition to our costs, there are disbursements which will also be payable, and which include:

  • electronic ID check - £5.40 per person
  • Probate Court fee payable on applying for the Grant - this is currently £155.00 plus 50p per Office copy of the Grant. An office copy would be required for each bank/building society account/property/other asset
  • Bankruptcy Search fees - £2.00 per person searched against
  • Statutory Notice to Creditors in the London Gazette (currently £74.58) if there are potential unknown creditors
  • The Probate application has in the past included an Oath for Executors, the fees for swearing which are £5.00 per person plus £2.00 per person for exhibiting the Will. However, the Probate Registry is in the process of changing this process, and these fees are being phased out. We will know more about this in due course, but at the moment anticipate that we will continue with the Oath for Executors, at the costs as stated

If the estate comprises complex assets such as stocks and shares, bonds, or assets abroad, then there are likely to be additional costs which could vary considerably. We will of course be able to give a more accurate idea when we have all necessary information.

The cost of selling a property or of transferring it to beneficiaries will also be charged separately.

If there is to be a Deed of Variation (which beneficiaries can do to redirect an inheritance, usually to their children, and for their own Inheritance Tax planning purposes), then our costs of dealing with that will be charged separately, unless we are instructed to deal with it at the cost of the estate.

Our costs are what are called "executorship" or "testamentary" expenses, and are payable from the estate.

In our experience, the length of time it will take to deal with an estate will vary greatly, and will depend very much upon such things as how quickly you can let us have all necessary information, the assets within the estate, how long it takes to receive responses from banks, life companies, company registrars etc. We would normally estimate the process might take at least six months, but each estate is different. Some matters will not take as long as that, and some will take considerably longer. If there is a property to sell, then clearly the timescales will be governed to a very large extent by the length of time it takes for the property to sell.

We can, if you wish, deal with only parts of the Probate process for you. For example, if the estate is straight-forward and there is no Inheritance Tax payable, we could act for you to obtain the Grant, and you could then deal with closing bank accounts, paying liabilities and distributing the estate youself. Our costs for dealing with the Grant application only are normally estimated at between £800.00 and £1500.00 excluding VAT and disbursements (the Court fee etc). Alternatively, you may wish to take out the Grant yourself, and then ask us to deal with closing bank accounts and distributing funds. We would be happy to discuss with you exactly what you wish us to do, and what you would be happy to deal with yourself.



 

Wills and Trusts

 

The making of a Will can be an important part of Inheritance Tax planning, and is vital if you want to ensure that, after your days, your estate is dealt with in accordance with your wishes.

 

We can advise on the best ways to reduce the likelihood of your estate paying Inheritance Tax, to make the best use of any reliefs available, and to safeguard the transfer of Inheritance Tax threshold between spouses.

 

We can also advise on trusts, whether comprised within a Will, or for the education and maintenance of your children.

 

We will prepare your Will or Trust Deed in accordance with your particular wishes and circumstances, and of course in strictest confidence.


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