Probate services pricing guide
Administration of Estate Fees
Reference to VAT is at its current rate of 20%.
All estates are different and it is therefore difficult to give an exact estimate of our fees or the length of time it will take to administer and wind up an estate. We record the time we spend on each matter onto our time recording system and we charge based on our hourly rates which are displayed in the personnel section below. We use the information you give us regarding the size and nature of the estate and the assets and people involved to provide an estimate based on what work is needed to administer the estate.
Based on our experience we are able to provide the following examples of our fees in typical cases:-
For details of the disbursements involved, see the “Additional Costs” section below.
In relation to all of the following examples, our costs may be higher if there are more assets or beneficiaries involved or where there are other factors which make the estate more time consuming to deal with (see “Other Factors” section below).
Should you want to deal with the bulk of the administration of an estate yourself, we provide a “grant only” service which involves us dealing with the legal paperwork in order to apply for a grant of probate or grant of letters of administration on your behalf.
You would need to obtain accurate valuations of all of the assets and liabilities in the estate and we will complete the grant application on your behalf which will involve submitting the HMRC Inheritance Tax account and drafting an oath for you to swear as Personal Representatives. We will see you for an initial meeting to take the information from you and a second meeting in order to approve and sign the probate papers. Assuming there is no Inheritance Tax to pay and the short form Inheritance Tax account is required, our fees are likely to be £1,500 to £2,000 plus VAT and disbursements.
Straight-forward estates with no Inheritance Tax (“IHT”) to pay
In general, where there is:
- a valid Will,
- no Inheritance Tax to pay (and a short form of the HMRC Inheritance Tax account is required),
- there are a few different assets (approximately 3 assets)
- and fewer than 3 beneficiaries
Our costs are likely to be in the region of £3,000 to £4,000 plus VAT and disbursements.
Estate with Inheritance Tax to pay
Where there is:
- a valid Will,
- approximately 5 beneficiaries
- and around 10 assets to deal with
- but there is Inheritance Tax to pay (and a full HMRC Inheritance Tax account is required)
We would estimate the costs to be in the region of £8,000 to £10,000 plus VAT and disbursements.
Where there is no Will, the deceased is said to have died “Intestate”. An Intestate estate is generally more complex (and therefore sometimes more costly) to deal with. We therefore estimate that an estate with:
- no more than approximately 3 assets
- and 3 beneficiaries,
- and no Inheritance Tax to pay (and where a short form of HMRC Inheritance Tax account is sufficient)
We would estimate the costs to be in the region of £4,000 to £5,000 plus VAT and disbursements.
In addition to our legal fees there will be a number of additional disbursements which the estate will incur in the course of the administration. We can discuss with you which of the following costs will apply to your matter.
Costs which will be incurred in all estates:-
- Probate Registry: application for grant: £155.00 + 50p per sealed office copy
- Oath swear fee: £7.00 per Executor or £5.00 per Administrator + £2.00 for each codicil where applicable
Estimated total costs on lowest values:
- Grant only: £1,964 inc VAT (assuming 4 copies of grant required)
- Estate no IHT: £3,764 inc VAT (assuming 4 copies of grant required)
- Estate with IHT: £9,767 inc VAT (assuming 10 copies of grant required)
- Intestate estate: £4,962 inc VAT (assuming 4 copies of grand required)
Please note: any inheritance tax (IHT) due is payable directly to HMRC; will be due in addition to the costs above and is not included in our estimates of costs.
Additional costs which will be incurred in some, but not all estates:-
- Land Registry Search: (to confirm property ownership): £3.00 - £8.00;
- S27 Trustee Act Notices: Approximately £250.00 (newspapers vary);
- Bankruptcy searches: £2.00 per beneficiary;
- Certainty – National Wills Register search: £90.00 plus VAT.
There are a number of factors which can complicate the administration of an estate and which can make it more time consuming to deal with, these include:-
- Large numbers of beneficiaries
- Large numbers of legacies
- Large share portfolios
- Disagreement or protracted correspondence between parties
- Executors or beneficiaries who require a high level of support or input from us
- Charity beneficiaries who require a higher level or information for their own records
- Queries raised by HMRC
- DWP claims against the estate
- Assets outside of the UK or unusual assets
- Missing beneficiaries
- Properties which are difficult to sell or deal with in some way
- Large numbers of lifetime gifts or other factors which will need to be accounted for to HMRC
- Any kind of dispute in relation to the Will
This list is not exhaustive and is designed to give you an idea of the sorts of factors which can increase the time and costs involved in administering an estate. If you have any specific concerns or queries, please contact us and we can give you a clearer idea of costs based on the estate you are dealing with.
How our fees are paid
The legal fees involved in administering an estate are usually taken directly from the estate before the estate funds are distributed. The exceptions to this are when there are insufficient funds in the estate to settle the costs of dealing with it or where the beneficiary wants all of the assets transferred to them in which case they will have to settle the legal fees directly. We can give you more information on how, and when, we invoice for work carried out.
The administration of an estate can be split into three sections: pre-grant, applying for the grant and post-grant. The timescale for each stage will largely depend on what the estate is worth and what types of assets and liabilities there are. However the following information may give you a rough idea of a typical estate administration.
- Every asset and liability in the estate, whether in the sole name of the deceased or in joint names, needs an exact valuation. This can take several weeks depending on how quickly replies are received. However, we would hope to be able to conclude the pre-grant phase within 3-4 months of our initial meeting.
- Grant application
- Once we have all the pre-grant information, we can prepare the probate papers and ascertain if any Inheritance Tax is due. If the estate is not taxable then once you have approved the probate papers, we will meet with you to swear the papers and the application for the grant can then be made. The Probate Registry takes about 2-3 weeks to issue the grant.
- If the estate is taxable, the Inheritance Tax has to be paid prior to the application for the grant and the grant cannot be issued until HMRC have confirmed safe receipt of the funds. This will add approximately 4-6 weeks to the process.
- Once the grant has been issued we will encash and/or transfer the assets and settle the liabilities. This can take weeks or months depending on how many there are. However under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 there are certain dependants, not necessarily relatives, who might potentially be able to make a claim on the estate. It is possible that the family might be unaware of such a dependant. Generally such claims must be brought within six months of the Grant of Probate being issued. If the estate were distributed before the expiry of the six month period and a successful claim were made, the personal representatives would be personally liable to pay the claimant. For this reason, we advise that no distribution of the estate is made until after the expiry of the six month period. We will keep you updated as the matter progresses.
The Estate Planning team is made up of the below personnel. Their full profiles can be found by clicking the link on their name.
Emma Woollard - Partner and Head of Department, £250 per hour
Emma qualified as a solicitor in 1999 and joined Prettys in April 2019. Emma deals with all aspects of wills and tax planning, the creation and administration of trusts, and probate and estate administration. She has a large Court of Protection practice and she is a court appointed Deputy for a number of clients of all ages.
Laura Parker – Associate Solicitor, £225 per hour
Laura studied at Homerton College Cambridge, before retraining for the law at Anglia Ruskin University where she gained a distinction on the legal practice course. She qualified as a solicitor in 2009 having trained with a local firm where she worked until joining Prettys in October 2016. Laura spends all her time on Estate law matters.