Thank you for looking at our probate services. Coping with the death of a person can bring a mixture of emotions and the legal side of dealing with a person’s death can often be overwhelming and confusing. Having compassionate, experienced legal advice can make this difficult situation much easier on you and your loved ones.
Whether the deceased person left a Will or whether there is substantial wealth and property involved, the sense of burden can increase. Where a Will is in existence the Executors will need to apply for the grant of probate which will give them the legal right to administer the estate. Where there is no Will in existence, the Will is invalid, or it does not specify Executors, an Administrator will need to be appointed.
We have an experienced team who can assist you with every aspect of the probate process, reducing the administrative burden and advising sensitively on key decisions which need to be made when managing an estate. We are aware that administering an estate comes at a time of grief and high emotion, and that most people do not know the processes and legal requirements involved.
We will give you a clear time frame of how long probate should take, although this is largely dictated by third parties, but we will keep you and any beneficiaries advised throughout.
You will have the confidence that you are our priority, with our aim being that any member of the team is available to speak with you when you need some clarity and certainty at any stage in the process. We feel this provides reassurance and gives you an outlet for any concerns that you may have. Fees are generally paid out of the estate, so there may not be a need for you to fund the administration.
We are proud to hold Lexcel and are also members of Lawnet, both of which involve the firm undergoing rigorous audit processes which ensures we maintain high levels of client care.
The fees involved in a probate matter can vary and this will depend on the individual circumstances involved.
In some circumstances we are able to offer fixed fees but for those more complex and involved estates we work on an hourly charging rate, whereby you will be charged for each hour of work undertaken.
If they become applicable, our current hourly rates are as follows:
Partners & Directors
£350 - £385 per hour plus VAT
£270 per hour plus VAT
Solicitors and Private Client Executives
£200 - £225 per hour plus VAT
Trust & Estate Executives
£225 per hour plus VAT
£150 - £180 per hour plus VAT
Range of Costs With Fixed Fee For Additional Work
The range of fees will depend on issues such as the number of assets in the estate, the number of beneficiaries and whether the estate includes a business or any property.
Our Probate team is able to handle the full process for you and due to the level of expertise amongst our team members we are also able to take a holistic view allowing you to choose which areas of the process we assist you with and which you manage yourself.
To assist you in understanding the costs for a relatively straightforward estate, we have set out below an estimate of our costs where the estate fits within the list below.
- There is a valid Will.
- There are no executors who have died or are refusing to act.
- There is only one property.
- There are no more than 3 bank or building society accounts.
- There are no other intangible assets beyond 3 bank/building society accounts and cash.
- There are no more than 2 beneficiaries.
- There are no beneficiaries who do not have capacity under the Mental Health Act nor any minors.
- There are no disputes between beneficiaries on the division of assets. If disputes arise this will lead to an increase of costs.
- There are no trusts in the Will.
- There are no missing beneficiaries.
- There is no inheritance tax payable and the executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC.
- There are no claims made against the estate.
- There is no requirement to obtain clearance from HMRC for income or capital gains tax.
Legal Fees for grant of probate only (fixed)
Legal Fees for Estate administration
Legal Fee Estimated Total
In some circumstances, we are often only required to assist with obtaining the Grant of Probate and in these instances we are sometimes able to provide you with a fixed fee. As part of the fixed fee, which is set out above within the pricing table, we will:
- Provide you with a dedicated and experienced Probate case manager to work on your matter.
- Identify the legally appointed executors and administrators.
- Accurately identify the type of Probate application you will require.
- Obtain relevant documents required to make the application.
- Complete the Probate Application and relevant HMRC Forms.
- Draft a Legal Oath for you to swear.
- Make the application to the Probate Court on your behalf.
Disbursements (For Both Options)
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as Land Registry fees or court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process and they can then be reimbursed from estate funds.
Office Copies for the Grant of Probate (each)
Land Registry Search fee (in England and Wales)
Bankruptcy Search fee (per beneficiary)
Inheritance Tax (IHT)
There are various factors that will affect any Inheritance Tax due on an estate, including the size of the estate and any measures that were put in place by the deceased to limit the estates tax liability. It also depends on what IHT reliefs are available to the estate; and our experienced team, which includes tax advisers, can advise you on these. Many of the reliefs have time limits beyond which they cannot be claimed and penalties can be issued by HMRC where reliefs that the estate is not entitled to are claimed.
We do not believe that it would be sensible to attempt to provide at this stage an estimate of any tax that may be payable but our team can assist with this once we have an understanding of the estate and the reliefs that can be claimed. If you wish to know more about IHT then we would advise you to look on the HMRC Website as this can assist in general terms and their calculators can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/hmrc-tools-and-calculators#inheritance-tax-and-bereavement
In certain circumstances our fees can be fixed and the services included are set out above, however there may be factors within the estate which would typically increase the cost of the fees involved. Where there is likely to be any additional cost, we will make sure you are informed of this at the earliest opportunity and a clear estimate of those extra costs will be provided.
For example, in the event that there is no Will, the estate consists of any shareholdings (Stocks and Bonds), or IHT is payable and a formal property valuation is required, there is likely to be additional costs that could vary significantly depending on the estate and how it is to be handled.
Additional services that are not included in our fixed fee but we can assist with at the same time as acting on your behalf in the estate are:
- Tax advice - the teams includes a number of members who have vast tax experience and also two Chartered Tax Advisers.
- Tax Returns can also be completed by the team at Gepps which saves time and costs by avoiding the need to involve outside third parties.
- Property sales - we can deal with residential and commercial property sales in house and have two large dedicated departments dealing with these areas.
On average, probate for the typical estate will take between 3 - 12 months. Generally, the time taken to obtain the Grant of Probate will take between 3 - 6 months, followed by the collection of assets and distribution of the assets which can take between 4 -12 months. If, however, IHT is payable or clearance is required from HMRC for income and/or capital gains tax is payable, all of which the team here can assist with, the timescales will be largely dictated by HMRC and can mean the estate cannot be finalised until two years after death.
With every transaction there are key milestones, which may vary according to individual circumstances. They may be as follows:
- Ascertaining the size of the estate for IHT purposes.
- Accounting to HMRC and making payment of any IHT due.
- Applying for the Grant of Probate.
- Obtaining the Grant of Probate.
- Collecting funds ready for distribution.
- Settling liabilities.
- Obtaining clearance from HMRC for IHT, income tax and/or capital gains tax, where applicable.
- Producing Estate accounts.
- Distributing funds.
Whatever position you are in, executor, beneficiary, the Probate team here at Gepp Solicitors can offer advice and assistance, so please call us today on 01245 228125 to speak to a member of the team or contact us using the enquiry page at https://www.geppsolicitors.co.uk/site/for-you/probate-solicitors-in-essex/.