Factors that could make a case more complex include:
- Issues relating to jointly owned property
- Whether there are any issues relating to capacity at the time the Will was executed or undue influence being applied on the person making the Will
- Issues relating to domicile
- Whether any aspects of the Will are likely to be disputed by people who think they should have been provided for
- Dealing with missing beneficiaries
- The terms of the deceased’s Will or Intestacy (if there is no Will)
- The amount of assets and liabilities comprised in the estate
- The complexity of the assets comprised in the estate such as foreign property, agricultural or business assets
- Lifetime gifts made by the deceased
- Trusts in the Will or other trust arrangements
- Formal Tax returns being required by HMRC
- Historic Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax issues of the deceased
- Claims made against the estate by DWP and other professional bodies/government agencies
How much will obtaining probate cost?
Our fees will reflect the particular requirements of the estate. Because of this, it is very difficult to provide a reliable estimate of the costs relating to your individual circumstances until we have more details about the estate and have had a look at the Will (if any) to ascertain whether it is simple, medium or high complexity estate.
With a view to providing increased cost certainty to our clients, we are able to offer a fixed fee service for Grant of Probate applications. We also provide a quote of costs if we are instructed to deal with the full Administration of an estate. Please see below for more information.
We have several regulatory requirements to verify the identity of the executors and beneficiaries of an estate and perform due diligence checks which are designed to help prevent fraud and money laundering. We have put in place significant anti-fraud checks to protect our clients and these are charged at £24 (inclusive of VAT) per person. These checks may need to be undertaken more than once during the legal work.
Grant of Probate only service
Some clients only require assistance with obtaining the Grant of Probate so that the Executors or Administrators can then deal with the Administration of the estate themselves. This is the most cost effective way we can assist you to deal with a simple estate.
Key Stages for Grant of Probate service only
If we are instructed under this service, we will prepare a Legal Statement for the Executors or Administrators which is based on the financial information provided to us.
You will need to provide us with a full list of the assets and liabilities in the estate. This will require date of death valuations for all items.
We will also require the deceased’s National Insurance number and details of all gifts in excess of £3,000 that have been made within the last seven years.
If required, we will complete an Inheritance Tax Return based on the information you have provided to us.
The draft Probate papers (consisting of the Legal Statement and where necessary Inheritance Tax Return) will then be sent to you for approval and signature.
Once we receive the Grant of Probate, we will release the office copies of the Grants of Probate to the Executors or Administrators, which will allow them to continue with the estate administration. This will mark the end of our involvement in the matter.
Please note the following actions are excluded under our Grant only service:
- Administration of the estate to include obtaining the date of death valuations or encashment following the issue of the Grant of Probate
- Detailed Tax Planning Advice or Deeds of Variation
- Transferring or selling any land or property
- Preparation of Estate Accounts
- Dealing with Income or Capital Gains Tax matters which occurred before death or during the period of the estate administration
- Contentious Probate Matters such as disputes between beneficiaries on the division of assets or claims being made against the estate
- Dealing with assets of a pre-deceased spouse
- The Administration of any trust or registration of the trust with HMRC
- Correspondence with beneficiaries of the estate
- Locating missing beneficiaries
- Regular visits to the deceased’s property for insurance purposes
- Dealing with foreign assets
You can, of course, instruct us to undertake any of the above work, and we can provide a separate quotation for doing so.
Grant Only Probate service - Fees
Where there is no Inheritance Tax payable:
Where the estate is a simple one and this allows us to report to the Probate Registry directly regarding inheritance tax our fees will be from £1,250 (exclusive of VAT).
Where we can report directly to the Probate Registry regarding inheritance tax but have to claim the Transferable Nil Rate Band Claim from a former spouse or civil partner our fees will be from £1,980 (exclusive of VAT).
Where a full Inheritance Tax return is required using form IHT 400 and accompanying schedules but no inheritance tax is payable our fees will be from £2,400 (exclusive of VAT).
Where there is Inheritance Tax payable:
Where a full Inheritance Tax return is required using form IHT 400 and accompanying schedules and inheritance tax is payable our fee will be from £3,900 (exclusive of VAT).
Probate Court Fees and other disbursements
It is necessary to pay Court fees when applying for a Grant of Probate.
The application fee is currently £273. Please note that you do not pay a court fee if the estate in administration is less than £5,000 in value.
There may also be disbursements which are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as:
- Extra copies of the Grant of Probate are often applied for at the time the application for Probate is made and each office copy is an additional £1.50
- Bankruptcy - Land Charges department bankruptcy searches cost £2.40 (inclusive of VAT) per beneficiary of an estate and it is likely that a minimum of two searches will need to be carried out against each beneficiary during the estate administration
- Land Registry fees (office copy entries) - £3.60 (inclusive of VAT) per title or plan
- Statutory Notices - In both the London Gazette and local newspaper – approximately £200 (inclusive of VAT)
- Unclaimed asset search - fee dependent on provider
- National Will Register Search - £126 (inclusive of VAT) if required. This is a search for the whereabouts of the Will of the deceased if unknown.
Potential additional costs
If there is no will or the estate consists of any share holdings (stocks and bonds) there is likely to be additional costs that could range significantly depending on the estate and how it is to be dealt with. We can give you a more accurate quote once we have more information.
Dealing with the sale or transfer of any property in the estate is not included in the above fees.
If there is a trust set up in the Will, the trust will probably need to be registered with HM Revenue and Customs’ Trust Registration Service (TRS). We can advise on this and arrange the TRS registration if it is necessary.
Full Estate Administration Service
If clients wish to instruct us to deal with the entire Probate process then our work will include the following (which is not included under the Grant of Probate only service):
- Making enquiries of all asset holding bodies
- Obtaining all necessary valuations
- Confirming details of liabilities
- Communicating with Personal Representatives, legatees and beneficiaries
- Preparation of the Inheritance Tax return
- Preparation of the papers leading to the application for the Grant of Representation
- Realising assets (excluding any land/property)
- Making interim distributions if appropriate for beneficiaries
- Settling liabilities and legacies
- Preparing and balancing final estate accounts and ultimately attending to the distribution of the final funds due to each of the beneficiaries
- Finalising the income tax affairs of the deceased for the estate administration period and issuing tax certificates to beneficiaries (if required). If the deceased had an accountant who supported them with this during their lifetime it can be cost effective for them to finalise the deceased’s tax affairs. The period of administration is a separate tax period and must be reported to HMRC. It may be possible to make an informal return. If the estate income and capital gains tax is complex then a formal return will be required. Again, this can be prepared by an appointed accountant.
As a guide, the fees for a full estate administration will range from £6,000 - £12,000 (exclusive of VAT) for a straightforward estate not consisting of complex assets, while fees for more complex estate (see above) can exceed £30,000 (inclusive of VAT) . The range is based on blended hourly rates and an element of added value. Our hourly rates range between £210 - £372 per hour (inclusive of VAT).
Please note that Probate Court fees and the costs associated with the selling or transfer of property are payable in addition to any costs set out above.
We will work with you at any early stage to identify non-legal tasks that do not necessitate our involvement, in order to establish if these can be completed by you, without necessitating our involvement, in order to keep our fees as cost-effective as possible.
We do need to meet with clients in the first instance to review the Will (or family tree if an Intestacy) and discuss how the estate’s assets and liabilities are made up. We can then provide you with a fee estimate which we believe the estate administration will cost including disbursements.
How long will my matter take?
The time that it takes from taking your initial instructions to the final Grant of Probate depends largely on how quickly the required information is provided.
In our experience, a full estate administration can take between 6-12 months to conclude but this will depend on each estate administration owing to the types of assets involved.
We cannot guarantee how long the Probate Registry will take to return the Grant of Probate. Following the submission of the papers to the Probate Registry, however, we would anticipate being in receipt of the Grant of Probate within 12-16 weeks.
If you would like to learn more about our Wills, Trusts, Capacity & Probate services, please visit our Wills, Trusts, Capacity and Probate pages for further information. Should you wish to meet our team of experienced and talented staff who would be responsible for progressing your matter then please click here.