Probate and Estate Administration
When someone dies, even if it is expected, the administration of their affairs can sometimes be overwhelming, time-consuming and complex. Whether you are an executor who has been appointed in a will, or someone close to you has died without leaving a will (“intestate”), we can help guide you through the process of administering the estate and obtaining probate.
Probate work generally falls into two distinct sections: Obtaining the grant of probate (or letters of administration where the deceased is intestate) and administering the estate.
Obtaining the Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration)
As part of our fee, the work will include identifying the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries, accurately identifying the type of probate application you will require, receiving relevant documents required to make the application, obtaining formal date-of-death valuations of all assets, considering and dealing with payment of Inheritance Tax, preparing the Executors Oath and arranging for it to be sworn, lodging the necessary papers with the Brighton District Probate Registry (or other court if required) and reporting to you when the Grant is issued.
Typically, obtaining the grant of probate takes 4-6 months.
Any reference to VAT means Value Added Tax, which is a tax on our services payable at the current rate, which is £20%.
In a simple case our fee is likely to be £1,200 plus VAT plus disbursements (see below).
In a complex case (for example where Inheritance Tax payment needs to be calculated, extra claims made, and arrangements for payment have to be made, with all relevant advice), our fee will be £1,500 – £2,000 plus VAT plus disbursements, depending on the degree of complexity /time required to complete the process.
What are the likely disbursements?
There are fees to be paid to the Probate Registry – currently £273 plus £1.50 for extra copies – and in some cases a fee to an independent solicitor for swearing the Executors Oath £7-11 usually (these third party fees are known as “disbursements”). VAT is not usually charged on disbursements so if we do not refer to VAT this means it is not payable.
Administering the Estate
This is the work carried out after the Grant of Probate has been issued. The work includes realising/collecting in or transferring all the assets of the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will; identifying and discharging any liabilities of the deceased or expenses arising in the estate; considering and dealing with tax issues of the Estate and /or of the deceased personally.
The administration can be simple or complex depending on the number, nature and value of the assets concerned. Where there are shareholdings this commonly gives rise to some degree of complexity due to the strict requirements of the Company Registrars. Loss of share certificates in particular is not uncommon and gives rise to additional work. Tax affairs, especially if complex, will usually be outsourced to an accountant and a separate estimate of fees will be obtained from the accountant if that arises. In some cases special registrations with HMRC are required, and formal income or capital gains tax returns are needed. If there are charity beneficiaries, their requirements can often give rise to more work. Estate Accounts are prepared at the conclusion of the administration and distribution is made as required to the beneficiaries. Executor clients are advised throughout on how their responsibilities are discharged, with a view to ensuring that there are no claims or matters outstanding after the conclusion of the matter.
Depending on your requirements, we can offer you a full administration service, which includes checking the will is valid, identifying the executors or administrators and beneficiaries, notifying relevant third parties, collating all of the documents and information required to apply for a grant of probate, preparing all necessary documents to enable a successful application for probate, collecting assets and discharging any debts and liabilities, preparing appropriate forms and accounts, complying with legacies in accordance with the will, and distributing the proceeds to the beneficiaries.
On average, collecting assets takes 2-4 months and distributing the assets normally takes 2-4 months.
Our fixed fee full administration service will depend on your particular circumstances as each case is unique, but for a relatively simple estate with one property and a couple of bank accounts, our minimum fee is £2,500 plus VAT, or 0.5% of the value of the overall estate, whichever is the greater, plus disbursements. For a more complex estate, we reserve the right to charge a higher fee.
As each case is unique please call us to discuss your requirements.
Our Complaints Procedure is detailed in our Terms of Business but you can also find it here.