Probate – costs and services (where there is no dispute)
Losing someone close to you can be a difficult and emotional time. Here at Downie & Gadban we are able to support you through this process. After someone dies, it is important that their liabilities are paid and their assets distributed correctly in accordance with their Will or the rules of intestacy. We are able to advise and assist you through the steps leading to an obtaining a Grant and completing the administration process.
We appreciate that every estate is different, and it is therefore impossible to cover all eventualities, but the information detailed below is a guide to give an indication of our potential costs. Once we have had the opportunity to discuss your requirements with you further and ascertain a more detailed understanding of the estate, we will be able to provide you with a more accurate indication of the costs involved.
We can offer you a variety of services which include, but are not limited to:
- A fixed fee Grant only service
- A service whereby you wish for us to obtain the Grant on your behalf with some assistance from us in relation to the administration process. This will be based on the work involved at an hourly rate basis.
- A service whereby we will deal with the full administration of the estate which is based on the work involved at an hourly rate and not a percentage of the value of the estate.
Obtaining Grant of Representation only
In the circumstance where the estate is relatively simple and you are able to obtain valuations for the assets and liabilities and administer the estate yourself, you may wish to instruct us to obtain the Grant only on your behalf.
This will also include estates where:
- There is a valid original Will appointing executors who wish to act;
- There is no Will but the person who is applying for the Grant is clearly identifiable and is not disputed;
- There are no disputes or potential disputes in relation to the Will or administration of the estate; and
- You have instructed us to act within a couple of months of the date of death.
Included within our fixed fee we will:
- Meet with you to take your instructions and advise you on the steps necessary to secure the Grant.
- Advise you on the steps you may wish to take and the considerations as part of the initial administration and also in relation to steps you may wish to take for the ongoing administration.
- Draft the inheritance tax paperwork and Statement of Truth (the document that acts as the application for the Grant) ensuring that it is completed to the best of your knowledge. We will then obtain your signature on the documents.
- Lodge the application with the Probate Registry and submit inheritance tax paperwork to HMRC (if applicable); and
- Secure the Grant and sealed copies for your use in the administration.
How much does this service cost?
Our fixed fees are determined by the complexity of the tax paperwork that it is necessary to submit.
Where it is possible to complete the shortened version of the tax forms (IHT205) our fixed fee is £900 including VAT (at 20%).. This will normally include estates where there is no inheritance tax to pay, and the assets in the estate are relatively straight-forward (houses, bank accounts, basic trust interest) and where we would need to apply for a Inheritance Tax allowance of a pre-deceased spouse (IHT421).
Where the value of assets are higher and the estate it is less straight-forward (for example a Residence Nil Rate Band is required to be applied for) but there is no Inheritance Tax to pay, it will be necessary to complete an IHT400 and our fixed fee is £1,440 including VAT (at 20%).
Where it is necessary to complete a full inheritance tax account (IHT400) and arrange for the payment of Inheritance Tax our fixed fee is £2,160 including VAT (at 20%).
The above fees are our legal costs and do not include payments to third parties (“disbursements”) which are charged in addition to these fees and are outlined below:
*These disbursements will only be incurred subject to your instructions and any work covered in relation to these will not be included within our Fixed Fees.
Timescale in relation to obtaining a Grant is dependent on how quickly you are able to provide us with the information required and the backlog of the Probate Court. A simple probate application usually takes between 6-8 weeks from the date of instruction to receiving the Grant. If we are required to complete an IHT400 and associated documents or if the application is more complex then again the timescale can be hindered by outside organisations such as HMRC and our estimated timescale would be between 3-4 months.
Undertaking the administration on your behalf
Where the estate is more complex, there are likely to be disputes or difficulties between the beneficiaries, or you do not wish to undertake the day-to-day administration yourself, you can instruct us to administer the estate for you.
As part of this service we will:
- Meet with you to take your instructions;
- Advise you in respect of your role as executor or administrator, and the steps we will take on your behalf and to protect you;
- Secure the values of the assets and liabilities in the estate, and correspond with banks, investment providers, pension providers, valuers etc.
- Liaise with governmental bodies (such as HMRC, the DWP and local authorities) in respect of their requirements;
- Advise on and (depending on your instructions) undertake the administrative work in respect of any property in the estate (including, for instance, liaising with utility companies, local council and house insurers);
- Draft the inheritance tax paperwork;
- Draft the Statement of Truth (essentially the document that acts as the application for the Grant);
- Where required, we are happy to meet with you again to explain the inheritance tax paperwork and secure your signature; and explain the Statement of Truth and secure your signature. Alternatively, we can send this to you for your signature.
- Lodge the application with the Probate Registry and submit inheritance tax paperwork to HMRC (if applicable);
- Arrange settlement of inheritance tax (if applicable);
- Obtain the Grant;
- Collect in the estate monies held in bank and building society accounts (subject to your instructions) and we will hold this on behalf of the estate until distribution takes place;
- Advise and take your instructions in respect of the disposal of other assets in the estate;
- Arrange settlement of liabilities of the estate (subject to solvency);
- Correspond with and identify the beneficiaries;
- Arrange settlement of legacies;
- Prepare final estate accounts;
- Report to HMRC in respect of income and capital gains made during the period of administration and secure confirmation of completion of the same;
- Make final distributions to the residuary beneficiaries.
How much do we charge for this service?
Our charges are based on the time taken to complete the work on your behalf, based on our hourly rates (shown below). We do not charge you a percentage of the value of the estate. Consequently, the cost is based on the complexity of the estate as this largely determines that amount of time that we must spend on your matter.
As every estate is different, it is impossible to provide a quotation that will cover every eventuality. As such, once we have met with you and gained a better understanding of the assets, liabilities and other matters concerning the estate we will, of course, provide you with a better indication of costs in relation to your matter.
By way of indication only, our fees for administering a simple estate where only a shortened version of the tax form is required (IHT205) and the estate consists of up to five mainstream bank accounts, a property and a maximum of five adult beneficiaries our costs are likely to be between £2,000 and £4,500 plus VAT. Where there are multiple beneficiaries, trust interests, foreign assets, complex investments, disputes, large numbers of accounts, missing wills, or similar, our costs will be necessarily higher. As stated above, we will discuss such anticipated costs with you at the outset of the matter.
The same figures apply as listed above for the Grant only service.
In addition to the work that it is necessary for us to undertake, there are a number of additional matters that need to be considered which could increase the timescale of the administration. The most common are delaying distributions for six months after the issue of the Grant in case of claims that might be brought, and the need to sell property. Where there are no significant difficulties in selling property, it is usually possible to finalise the administration within approximately 12 months. Where there is a delay in selling a property, or other complications, the time taken can be longer. As with costs, these considerations will be discussed with you at the outset and on an ongoing basis.
Note – Conveyancing work:
Please note that the fees in relation to an administration of an estate do not include any work in respect of conveyancing that is required on the sale or transfer of a property. Our Property Department can provide quotations for such work if required, and we would be very happy to liaise with them on your behalf if you wish.