Wills, trust & probate

Whatever your age or position in life it is never too early to have a will. The amount and scope of your assets is immaterial. We are used to dealing with the complex affairs of wealthy individuals but we are equally at home dealing with simple estates.

Our clients include individuals, married couples and civil partners – in both the UK and abroad – and we regularly advise clients who have their own businesses as well as farmers and landowners.

In order to reduce the emotional stress associated with having to deal with such matters following bereavement, and to ensure that your affairs are handled in the way you would have wished,  we stress that early planning is essential. Accidents and unforeseen illness and death in themselves can be disastrous; even more so when there is no will in place.

Regardless of your age, status or the size of your estate, we will be happy to discuss the most appropriate options, from a simple will to highly detailed trusts, and help you and your family achieve peace of mind for the future.

To find out more about how our private client team can help you, please get in touch with our key contacts listed below.

In accordance with SRA Transparency Rules 2018, we have provided information on our approach to fees and service for Probate matters below. For information about other areas of work not covered by the SRA Transparency Rules 2018 please get in touch.

Our service

We will provide you with a dedicated and experienced legal advisor who is STEP qualified or supervised by a STEP qualified solicitor to help you through this difficult process.  We will obtain valuations of the assets in the estate, obtain the grant of probate on your behalf and collect and distribute the assets.

We appreciate the circumstances and requirements for each estate are unique.  The following is a guide only and we are happy to provide a more personalised quote for fees and timescales as needed.

We take pride in offering a bespoke service to our clients to meet their specific needs and expectations.  Our lawyers are experts and specialists in their field. The firm and its lawyers are regulated by an independent regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Our legal fees

Our fees cover an initial meeting with the family and/or executors, valuing the estate, applying for the grant, collecting and distributing the assets.  Our fees are based solely on the amount of time spent administering an estate and we do not charge an additional value element.  We roughly divide estates into three grades of complexity: low, medium and high.

Low Complexity

We estimate our total costs to be between £3,000 – £15,000 (plus VAT).  We anticipate this will take between 20 and 88 hours of work, at a current (2018/19) hourly rate of between £170 – £370 per hour, plus VAT.  The exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter.  For example, if there is one executor, one beneficiary and no property, costs will be at the lower end of the range.  If there are multiple executors, multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, costs will be at the higher end. We will handle the full process for you.  This quote is for estates which might include:

  • There is a valid Will
  • All the assets are in the UK
  • There is no more than one property
  • There are no gifts of money or specific items
  • There are bank or building society accounts with only 3 financial institutions
  • There are no other intangible assets
  • There are no more than 4 beneficiaries
  • There are no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets. If disputes arise this is likely to lead to an increase in costs
  • There is no inheritance tax payable and the executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC
  • An income tax return is not needed
  • There are no claims made against the estate

Medium Complexity

We estimate our total costs to be between £8,000- £35,000 (plus VAT).  We anticipate this will take between 45 and 200 hours of work, at a current (2018/19) hourly rate between £170 – £370 per hour, plus VAT.  Again, the exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter and we will handle the full process for you.  In these estates typical features may include:

  • There could be a Will, or the estate could be intestate
  • All of the assets are in the UK
  • The deceased may have made lifetime gifts in excess of the annual allowances
  • There could be inheritance tax payable and a full inheritance tax account is required
  • The estate comprises stock exchange investments
  • There are gifts in the Will of money or specific items
  • There may be more than four beneficiaries
  • There are no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets. If disputes arise this is likely to lead to an increase in costs
  • There might be two properties
  • Income tax returns up to the date of death and for the estate administration period might be required
  • The Will might comprise an ongoing trust
  • There are no claims made against the estate

High Complexity

We estimate our total costs to be between £25,000 to £150,000 plus VAT (and in some cases more).  We anticipate this will take between 145 and 550 hours of work (and could be more), at a current (2018/19) hourly rate between £170 – £370 per hour, plus VAT.  Again, the exact costs will depend on the individual circumstances and we will handle the full process for you.  It may be necessary to involve experts to deal with specific issues e.g. accountant to value a business.  Estates such as this will often have more than one of the following features:

  • The estate will be subject to inheritance tax
  • The Will might contain one or more trust arrangements
  • There could be more than one property
  • There might be business and/or agricultural property
  • There are assets in one or more overseas jurisdictions
  • There might be Heritage Property
  • There might be valuable collections of art or antiques
  • There might be contentious issues such as a disputed Will or an Inheritance Act claim
  • There might be disputes between beneficiaries
  • There might be family circumstances that require careful handling such as second marriages and step families
  • There might be domicile issues concerning the deceased or their spouse
  • There might be claims against the estate

Disbursements

Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees.  They are costs that are in addition to our legal fees.  We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.

Disbursements which are always paid:

  • Death certificates, £11 for each copy
  • Probate application fee of £155 plus £0.50 for each additional copy required, usually one per asset.
  • Swearing of the oath £5 plus £2 per additional document e.g. the Will (per executor)
  • Bankruptcy search, Land Charges Department (£2 per beneficiary)

Potential additional disbursements, depending on circumstances:

  • Certainty Will search, £38 – £199 plus VAT
  • Landmark Asset Search, £135 plus VAT
  • Land Registry search fee (if there is a property), £3 plus VAT
  • Notice in the London Gazette – £84.60 plus VAT – protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors, also known as s27 advertisement
  • Notice in Local Newspaper – from £185 plus VAT, the price varies according to the publication – protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors, also known as s27 advertisement
  • Accountant’s fees for dealing with income tax up to date of death and sometimes during administration period
  • Valuer’s fees for valuing assets such as contents in a property, property itself or land, shares, business assets etc

How long will this take?

How quickly an estate can be dealt with will depend on many factors including how quickly requests for information are dealt with, the involvement of third parties such as accountants, the DWP, HMRC.

On average, estates that fall within the low complexity range set out above are dealt with within 6-12 months from the date of death.  Typically, from taking initial instructions, obtaining valuations to obtaining the grant of probate takes 3 – 6 months.  Collecting assets then follows, settling income tax position and distribution of estate, which normally takes a further 3 – 6 months.  For medium or high complexity estates the timeframe is likely to be considerably longer and can take more than a year.  We will provide you with a more bespoke timescale once we know more about the estate.

Information correct as of December 2018

Get in touch with us

Interested in finding out more? Use this form to let us know how to contact you and what you’d like to know, and we’ll get back to you.

Alternatively, contact anyone listed on our website direct, they will be happy to hear from you.

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