Estimating costs at the beginning of an estate administration can be difficult. There is often insufficient information to determine any potential problems and the amount of time which we will need to spend dealing with the matter.
Each matter is different and we will discuss our fees once we have a better understanding of the estate, and the work required.
Our standard hourly rate is £305 plus VAT, disbursements and expenses . However, if the matter is more complex, we will apply a premium rate of £330 plus VAT. This rate might apply where for example we need to claim Agricultural Property Relief, Business Property Relief, if the deceased had assets in different jurisdictions, if the deceased’s assets are not readily realisable or there are complex or unusual inheritance tax issues arising. We will discuss these with you before proceeding with your matter. Our charges are calculated in accordance with the Law Society's published guidelines and the Solicitors Remuneration Order which provides for cost to be 'such sum as may be fair and reasonable, having regard to all the circumstances of the case'. The most important factor will be the time spent on the matter. Other relevant factors include the complexity and importance of the matter, the skill required, and the need for urgency.
For a straightforward matter, based on our standard hourly rate of £305 plus VAT, we would estimate that our costs would be between £4,500 plus VAT, disbursements and expenses, and £6,000 plus VAT, disbursements and expenses, equating to between about 15 and 20 hours of work. This figure might be relevant in the following circumstances;
- There is a valid will
- There is no more than one property
- There are no more than five bank or building society accounts
- There are perhaps three beneficiaries
- There are no disputes between beneficiaries about the division of assets
- There is no inheritance tax payable and Executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC
There are no claims made against the estate.
If the estate is more complex, and is taxable, meaning that we need to complete a full inheritance tax account, we are more likely to charge our premium rate of £330 per hour. We are likely to spend nearer 40 hours in dealing with it. In that situation our costs might be in the region of £13,000 plus VAT and disbursements and expenses. Whether 40 hours will be required will depend upon the nature of the assets, for example stock exchange investments, and whether there are multiple beneficiaries. Similarly, if income tax returns are required, either to the date of death or during the administration period (or both) this will lead to more time being spent.
If an estate includes agricultural or business property assets, we may also apply the higher hourly charging rate of £330 plus VAT, disbursements and expenses. Inheritance tax is payable despite claiming any applicable reliefs, the administration may well take in excess of 12 months as additional time will be required in negotiating with the District Valuation Office, HMRC share valuation division and other branches of HMRC to agree the valuations of those assets before clearance can be obtained.
These fees do not include conveyancing work associated with the sale or transfer the property once Probate has been granted.
We will incur disbursements and expenses on your behalf. These are expenses related to your matter and payable to third parties. These would typically include the following;
- Probate court fee £155
- Office Copy Grant of Probate £1.50 per copy
- Office Copy Entries from the Land Registry £3 plus VAT
- Bankruptcy searches £2.00 plus VAT per Executor and beneficiary
- Statutory notice in the London Gazette and local newspaper £210 plus VAT
- Certainty Will search £95 plus VAT
Sometimes Executors prefer the certainty of a fixed fee and we can discuss this with you if you wish. We can offer a fixed fee based on the time we anticipate spending, subject to an agreed scope of work. Alternatively we can agree a fixed fee, which is based on a combination of work we believe is required, and a percentage of the value of the estate, and in that situation, the fee would not to be exceeded. We aim to offer all our clients the opportunity to discuss fee options with us, so that we can be totally transparent and ensure that your requirements are met.
If the Executors simply wish us to obtain a Grant of Probate on their behalf and can provide us with all the relevant figures, (assuming there is no Inheritance tax payable) we can deal with the formalities of obtaining a Grant of Probate for the Executors who will then deal with the estate themselves. Our fee for this is £1,750 plus VAT, disbursements and expenses.
How long will this take
On average a straightforward estate with no property and where there is no Inheritance tax payable would usually be dealt with within four to six months. Typically, obtaining a Grant of Probate takes 10 to 12 weeks and collecting the assets can take a further 4 to 6 weeks. Once assets have been obtained we would expect to distribute within a further 4 to 6 weeks.
If the estate is taxable, the time frame will be extended, because the we cannot apply to the Court for a Grant of Probate until at least some of the Inheritance tax has been paid and HMRC have issued a receipt. This process can add up to a further six weeks. In a taxable estate we will also ensure Executors make full use of all exemptions and reliefs to minimise the Inheritance tax liability. These can be complex and require specialist advice. If a property needs to be sold the estate cannot be concluded until the sale has completed. In a taxable estate we need to obtain clearance from HMRC that all IHT due has been paid. This can take up to 3 months or longer, from submitting the application for clearance once all the assets have been collected and the tax due has been calculated. Typically a taxable estate where there is a property to sell and Inheritance tax is payable might take up to a year to finalise, although if the property sells quickly that timeframe will be shorter