When making a will, you inevitably have to think about the people you’ll leave behind which...
Our charges depend entirely on what work is involved in any given case, and we tailor our service to the client’s requirements. The following is intended to be guidance as to our likely estimated fees depending on what work we carry out. There may be various factors which could increase, or indeed decrease the estimates mentioned.
The following guidelines are not to be taken as estimates in any individual case. An estimate will be confirmed once we have seen you in the office to discuss your particular circumstances and the work you ask us to carry out.
Please note that in addition to the costs and disbursements (out of pocket expenses) mentioned below, we also charge a fee of £5 plus VAT per personal representative for an electronic identification search fee, which assists us in complying with money laundering regulations.
Where VAT is referred to, this is charged at the prevailing rate of 20%.
Sometimes clients are happy to handle the administration of an estate themselves if it is straightforward, but they seek our advice generally or with regard to particular aspects. We provide an advisory service whereby we are often able to give such advice and a short written report for a fixed fee. If the estate is straightforward this is usually £150 plus VAT.
If there are more complex factors which mean we have to spend longer in providing the advice, more meetings are involved, or if we have to research certain factors before reporting back, for example, this will be increased depending on the work involved.
Please note that the Private Client team does not offer free half hours. Sometimes we may see a client following a bereavement to have a brief chat and maybe release documents we hold. If we are not providing substantive advice then this is usually free of charge but this would be confirmed prior to any such appointment.
Obtaining a grant
We can obtain a grant from the probate registry without handling the administration of the estate. This service can be suitable if you wish a professional to handle the more legal and tax related aspects of an estate but you are happy to collect and distribute the assets yourself.
Our charges for this service start at £600 plus VAT. This would be appropriate for a straightforward application for a grant and you provide all the relevant information such as bank balances, the property valuation and so on. This covers advice at the outset but not advice after the grant, nor does it cover any aspect of the estate administration. We can provide that if you wish and which would usually be charged on an hourly rate. The rates of the respective grades of staff are noted below. Once we know what further work is required we would advise you who would be carrying out the work at what rate, and would give you a more defined estimate of what that work would cost.
If an estate is more complex, for example, a full Inland Revenue (HMRC) account is required due to the existence of a trust or for some other reason, we would increase the estimate to take into account the additional work involved.
- Partner £220 plus VAT
- Assistant Solicitor £195 plus VAT
- Paralegal £145 plus VAT
In addition to our charges, there will be disbursements payable. These are not part of our costs but other expenses that have to be paid as part of the process. Those are:
- £7 commissioners fee per person who applies for the grant
- At present the probate registry fee is £155 plus 50p per copy of the grant required.
However, the Government has recently announced that Probate Registry fees will be increased, as yet we do not have a date as to when this will take effect. The proposed increased fees are shown in the following table:
Value of estate (before inheritance tax)
Up to £50,000 or exempt from requiring a grant of probate
£50,000 - £300,000
£300,000 - £500,000
£500,000 - £1m
£1m - £1.6m
£1.6m - £2m
The costs for the administration of an estate can vary widely and will depend on a range of factors.
Straightforward estate of a value less than £200,000
If an estate is straightforward, in other words, there is no inheritance tax to pay, no disputes or other complicating factors, we can administer the estate on the basis of the time spent, and we usually estimate on this basis if the value of the gross estate falls below £200,000. An example of such an estate might be a person who has died owning their house free of mortgage, a couple of savings accounts, some National Savings and a few shares. The will is straightforward and divides the estate amongst three children.
The hourly rates of the people working on the matter are set out above. We would give you an estimate of our charges in a range once we have seen you and assessed how much work would be involved, for example £2000-2750 plus VAT. We usually provide a range of costs to take to ensure that our fees cover all the work involved but also to ensure you are not charged more as you may be if our fee was fixed.
Please note that this is an example of how we quote in a range, it is not to be taken as an estimate in any particular case as each estate will be different.
Commissioners fees and the probate registry fee as noted above are also payable. There are likely to be other disbursements payable as follows:
Bankruptcy search fees of £2 per beneficiary
Land Registry fee if a property is to be kept and transferred to a beneficiary – this can range from £20 to £ 910 depending on the value and whether it is already registered.
More complex and higher value estates
If an estate is more complicated or of a higher value, then we may estimate our charges as a percentage of the overall value of an estate. This will be based on various factors such as the time spent, the overall value of the assets, the type of assets and any other considerations which may increase the complexity and responsibility we undertake. This is in accordance with long established principles and is designed so that the charges are both fair to the beneficiaries and to us.
Our hourly rates are lower than our usual rates which take into account the value element which is referred to below. The relevant hourly rates are as follows:
- Partner £185 plus VAT per hour
- Assistant Solicitor £160 plus VAT per hour
- Paralegals £125 plus VAT per hour
- More junior staff carrying out routine work other than secretarial work £105 plus VAT per hour
The value element reflects the value of the estate and the responsibility undertaken by the firm as a result. In an average matter the value element would not exceed 0.5% of the value of the land or buildings and 1% of other assets and may well be less. Where partners in the firm have the added responsibility of acting as the only executors, those figures may increase to 0.75% and 1.5% respectively. The value element decreases as the value of the estate increases.
The guidelines below show the likely overall charges for dealing with estates of a certain size, taking these two elements into account. A more straightforward matter will fall towards the lower end of the scale for example if no inheritance tax is payable. A more complex matter, such as a taxable estate, where we may be involved in negotiations with HMRC, or where there may be contentious aspects or significant numbers of different types of assets, may fall towards the higher end.
- £200,000 to £350,000 between 2% and 3% of the gross estate
- £350,000 to £500,000 between 1% and 2% of the gross estate
- £500,000 to £1,000,000 between 1% and 1.5% of the gross estate
High value estates
If an estate is valued at over £1million this will be charged on the basis of a combination of time spent and value, the estimated percentage may be between 1-1.5% per cent overall but this entirely depends on the type of estate and the assets we are handling. For example, an estate may be of very high value but pass entirely to charity in which case no IHT is payable. Our charges for an estate of this nature are likely to be less than for a taxable estate.
Please note that our charges do not cover the cost of conveyancing if a property is to be sold. Our conveyancing team would be happy to supply an estimate of their charges which are separate to the costs for dealing with the estate administration.
There may also be occasions when we have to refer work to another team in the firm and their charges would not be included in the charge for the administration of the estate. Examples might be advice from our litigation team on a dispute that arises, or input from our Commercial team on selling or otherwise winding down a business.
Our charges exclude any assistance of a third party that may be required at an additional cost, for example a valuation fee.
Various taxes may be payable by a person's estate. If any tax is payable, this is completely separate to our charges and disbursements. The type of taxes that may be payable are income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax. If we are handling the administration of the estate (and not just advising or just obtaining a grant) we will review these aspects as part of the work we carry out for you.
Sometimes we may have to refer certain aspects to another professional, for example, an accountant may be required to comment on inheritance tax reliefs that may apply to a business. Again, their fees are entirely separate to ours.
Further guidance can be found on the HMRC website.
If we are obtaining the grant only, it usually takes 1-2 weeks from receipt of all the information from you to prepare the application, this may be more if a full Inland Revenue account is required.
If we are handling the administration, it depends entirely on how much information we have to obtain in order for us to apply for the grant as to how long it may take to prepare the application. In an average estate it may take us up to 6 – 8 weeks unless matters are very straightforward. In a more complicated or high value estate, particularly if the estate is taxable, this takes longer, and sometimes can take up to six months depending on circumstances.
Once the papers have been prepared and you have sworn them it takes around 14 days on present timescales to obtain the Grant of Probate from the Registry. If however a receipt is required from the Revenue prior to issuing the grant, it may take several weeks before this comes in before the probate application can be lodged.
After that a simple estate would probably take 2-3 months to finish off. This may take longer depending on the number or nature of assets, and how long financial institutions take to process our correspondence. Sometimes this can be delayed further by such matters as a delay in selling a house or a long time taken to finalise income tax affairs.
If the estate is a taxable estate and the executors are going to have to pay inheritance tax on it then it is likely that it will take between a year to 18 months from submitting the Inland Revenue account altogether before a final clearance certificate can be obtained from the Inland Revenue and in complicated estates, or estates where there are difficult valuation matters such as private company shares, this may very well be longer.