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 £200.00 per hour plus VAT of £40.00. 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 inclusive of VAT per person
  • a Probate Court fee is payable on applying for the Grant - this is currently £273.00 (not subject to VAT) plus £1.50 (not subject to VAT) per Office copy of the Grant. An office copy would be required for each bank/building society/property/other asset. This will vary from one estate to another, but the typical Court fee paid is between £276.00 and £288.00
  • Bankruptcy Search fees - £2.00 (not subject to VAT) per person searched against. Bankruptcy searches are carried out against legatees and beneficiaries of the estate for the protection of the personal representatives, because if the personal representatives pay over money to persons who are in fact undischarged bankrupts at the time of payment, the Trustee in Bankruptcy can recover this money from the personal representatives personally.
  • Statutory Notice to Creditors in the London Gazette (currently £87.84 inclusive of VAT) if there are potential unknown creditors. Statutory Notices may also be inserted in a newspaper local to the deceased. The cost of such local notices vary from newspaper to newspaper, but will usually be between £200.00 and £500. 00 inclusive of VAT.
  • The Probate application is now made online electronically, and the only cost is the Probate Court fee, as above. We will calculate this based on the number of Office Copies required, and will ask you for this amount on account when we apply for the Grant

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, and will seek your approval and, if necessary, payment on account, before incurring such charges on your behalf.

The cost of selling a property or of transferring it to beneficiaries will also be charged separately (see our residential conveyancing page).

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. Such work will be charged at our normal hourly charging rate, and will normally be in the region of £300.00 to £450.00 plus VAT (£60.00 to £90.00).

Our legal 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 very much depend upon such things as how quickly you can let us have all necessary information, the nature of the assets within the estate, how long it takes to receive responses from banks, life companies, company registrars etc. 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. If we are able, we will discuss with you the possibility of making an interim distribution, should the sale of a property become unduly delayed.

Moreover, the Probate Registry has been greatly impacted not only by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also by the introduction of its electronic online Grant application process. The Probate Registry is currently indicating that it will take up to eight weeks to issue the Grant, from the date the application is submitted. In addition, only applications for Grants of Probate and some very straightforward applications for Grants of Letters of Administration (where there is no Will and the Grant is being applied for by a spouse or children) can be made online, with all other types of application being paper applications submitted by post.

Banks and building societies, life companies, share registrars and NS&I have also seen significant changes to their working practices over the last two years, with the result that dealing with administering an estate takes much longer than it once did. We would hope to be in a position to apply for the Grant within twelve to sixteen weeks of first instruction. The Grant application would be submitted within a further two to four weeks, with the Grant issuing some eight weeks later. The time taken to encash the investments would hopefully be within a further eight weeks.  Depending on the assets involved, the average timescales for dealing with an estate would now be between six and twelve months from receiving your first instructions to making final distribution. We will make every effort to progress your matter as swiftly as possible, but you will appreciate that we are very much in the hands of the investment providers and the Probate Registry.

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 yourself. Our costs for dealing with the Grant application only are normally estimated at between £1200.00 and £3000.00 including VAT, but excluding any 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.

As stated above, our hourly charging rate is currently £200.00 plus VAT of £40.00. A straightforward Will will normally cost in the region of £150.00 plus VAT (total £180.00). For couples, mirror Wills would cost in the region of £150.00 to £200.00 plus VAT for the two (£total 180.00 to £240.00).

We will let you have an estimate of the likely costs in your case when we write to you shortly after our initial appointment.

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