Probate and Estate Administration

Introduction

The SRA Transparency Rules require all regulated law firms, who publish as part of their usual business that they offer certain services, to supply information on the prices they charge for those services. For pricing on other types of work, we can provide an estimate upon request. 

Our team has over 55 years of collective experience in delivering high quality work in all matters relating to wills and estate administration.  The team has particular expertise in high value estates and inheritance tax matters.

We have nine key members of the team who may work on your matter.  Anna Parker, Partner and Head of our UK Tax, Wealth Planning and Succession team, has overall responsibility for the work regardless of who works on your matter.  Anna's details are at this link and other key team members' details can be found at this link.

Estates vary greatly in both quantum and complexity.  Your estate will be dealt with by fee earners whose expertise is appropriate to the task in hand. 

Our costs

General

Our fees for acting for and advising you are priced on our hourly rates for members of the team which range from £145 + VAT (for a paralegal) to £370 + VAT (for a partner).   

The exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter.  For example, if there is one beneficiary and no property, costs will be at the lower end of the range.  If there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, costs will be at the higher end; and if there are reliefs to be claimed or significant lifetime gifting (gifts made by the deceased during the last 7 years of their life) this will also increase the estimate.

Basic estates

We estimate the cost of us handling the full process for a basic estate, which falls within the following description, would be in the range of £5,000 + VAT - £10,000 + VAT.

A basic estate comprises: 

  1. a valid will;
  2. no more than one property;
  3. no more than four bank or building society accounts;
  4. no other intangible assets;
  5. 5 or fewer beneficiaries;
  6. no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets.  If disputes arise this is likely to lead to an increase in costs;
  7. no inheritance tax payable and the executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC; and
  8. no claims made against the estate.

This estimate comprises our fees plus the following disbursements.  Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees.

1Probate application fee £150
2Swearing of the oath with Will (per executor) £7
3Bankruptcy-only Land Charges Department searches£2 plus VAT per beneficiary
4A post in The London Gazette and post in a local
newspaper to protect against unexpected claims
£180 - £210
5If additional copies of the grant are required £0.50 (1 per asset usually)
6Land Registry fees £3 per title
7Lost Asset Search £135 plus VAT

We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.

Complex estates

The majority of the estates that we administer are not basic and have costs estimates in the range of £15,000 + VAT - £80,000 + VAT.  Very few fall within the strict parameters set out above for a basic estate.  We will happily talk you through your own personal circumstances.

For complex estates some examples which cause potential additional costs are:

  1. Intestacy (ie no will)
  2. Multiple properties and properties which are occupied
  3. Multiple bank accounts
  4. The estate includes investment holdings (shares and bonds)
  5. The estate includes intangible assets such as intellectual property rights  (for example author's rights in the case of literary estates)
  6. Multiple assets
  7. Overseas assets or beneficiaries
  8. Disputes amongst beneficiaries or between the executors and beneficiaries
  9. Claims for tax relief

Ultimately the actual additional costs range significantly depending on the estate and how it is to be dealt with. We can give you a more accurate estimate of this cost when we obtain more information about the estate.

The likely disbursements are the same as for a basic estate.  The increase in our costs therefore arises from an increase in our fees (ie the time we spend on your matter).

What are the key stages and how long will it take?

Key stages

The estimates set out above include all of the work in relation to the key stages of administering an estate claim, which follow.

  1. Identifying the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries
  2. Accurately identifying the type of Probate application you will require
  3. Obtaining the relevant documents required to make the application
  4. Completing the Probate Application and the relevant HMRC forms
  5. Drafting a legal oath for you to swear
  6. Making the application to the Probate Court on your behalf
  7. Obtaining the Probate and securely sending two copies to you
  8. Collecting and distributing all assets in the estate

How long it will take?

On average, basic estates are dealt with within 9 - 12 months. Typically, obtaining the grant of probate takes 3 months.  Collecting assets then follows, which can take 6 months. Once this has been done, we can distribute the assets which normally takes 3 months.

Most complex estates are dealt with between 1 and 3 years.  It is not possible to state likely timescales for key stages.

These timelines are a guide only.  If, for example, there is real estate to dispose of (or other illiquid assets) the timeframe may be significantly longer.