UNCONTESTED PROBATE – TYPICAL LEGAL COSTS
There are two main elements to the legal costs of obtaining a grant of probate and distributing an estate:
- our charges; and
- expenses we must pay out of your behalf.
Our hourly rates for probate administration depend on the seniority of the fee earner carrying out the work and range from £180 per hour for a trainee to £525 per hour for a partner. Typically, the administration of an estate would be carried out by one of the solicitors in the department, under the supervision of a partner.
It is very difficult at the outset of a probate to estimate how much time it will take to complete the administration of an estate, as this can depend on the particular circumstances of the case, and issues which may arise during the course of the administration process.
The best guidance we can give is that our costs typically tend to fall in the range of 1-3% of the gross value of the estate. This is not to say that we charge on an ad valorum basis, but is simply an indication that the larger and more complex an estate is, the higher our fees are likely to be. Thus, the costs of administering an estate worth £1 million could be between £10-30,000 plus VAT, but once we have more information about the nature of the estate, we will be able to give you a better estimate.
This estimate includes the key stages of the administration of an estate:
- identifying the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries;
- obtaining the relevant documents required to make a probate application;
- completing the probate application and the relevant HMRC forms;
- drafting the statement of truth for the executor;
- making the probate application the executor’s behalf and sending him / her copies;
- arranging payment of any inheritance tax due;
- settling liabilities;
- paying legacies;
- tax compliance for the estate administration period;
- preparing estate accounts;
- obtaining all necessary tax clearances;
- collecting and distributing all assets in the estate.
The exact cost and number of hours it will take depends on the circumstances of your case. The above range of costs is based on the following factors:
- there is a valid will
- the estate does not include any overseas assets
- there is no more than one property
- there are no more than five bank / building society accounts
- there are up to eight beneficiaries
- there is no disputes between the beneficiaries on the division of assets
- there is no inheritance tax (IHT) payable and the executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC; and
- there are no claims made against the estate.
If there is a valid will, no inheritance tax to pay and the estate does not include any shareholdings, our charges are likely to be at the lower end of this range.
We reserve the right to increase the hourly rates if the work done is particularly complex or urgent, or the nature of your instructions require us to work outside normal office hours. On occasions when we have done this we have increased our rates by up to 20%, but if this happens, we will notify you in advance and agree an appropriate rate.
We will review our hourly rates on a periodic basis. This is usually done annually at the end of our financial year. We will give you advance notice of any change to our hourly rates.
If a partner of the firm is appointed as an executor, there is no additional charge.
Our charges do not include VAT, which we will add to your bill at the prevailing rate.
Our team has over 250 years collective experience in delivering high-quality work in all matters relating to probate and estate administration. The team has particular expertise in estates with high value or complex assets, assets qualifying for agricultural or business property relief from inheritance tax, foreign assets and cross-border succession issues, and heritage property. Regardless of who works on your matter, they will be supervised by one of the partners in our probate team.