There are a number of things that family and friends need to do immediately following a death. Firstly, you will need to ensure that the death is registered. The medical certificate stating the cause of death will need to be registered at the Registry Office of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Civil Partnerships for the district where the person died. You will also need to ensure that the deceased’s home and possessions are safe. If the person who has died lived alone, the relatives or friends should go to his or her home as soon as possible after the death to secure the premises, and if possible to contact the insurers to make sure that adequate home and contents cover is in place. These matters are often dealt with by family and friends, but we can help with some or all of these matters too if you wish us to.
Administration of Estates - Probate Law Services
Losing a loved one is obviously an extremely emotional and difficult time. You may also be feeling daunted at the task that lies before you in arranging a loved one’s affairs. You can rely on our expertise and compassion to make a very difficult time that little bit easier. We can help you with arrangements and paperwork — a helping hand when you need it most.
It is not essential to find the will before the funeral. However, it is best to find it as soon as possible following the death so that any expressions as to funeral wishes are considered and the executors informed. We can put you in touch with local funeral directors and also discuss ways of paying for the funeral expenses.
You may not be able to find a will made by the deceased. We can help with further searches for the will and explain what to do if the person is intestate (which means that the estate will be dealt with in accordance with the law rather than the terms of any will).
The executors appointed in a will have to deal with the estate of the deceased and will need to collect in all the assets of the estate, pay out any liabilities and, if necessary, report to HM Revenue & Customs and arrange for an application to the Probate Registry to allow the executors to act.
The wealth of correspondence and paperwork can take a lot of time to deal with, even with a simple estate and the executors need to adopt a business-like approach which can be difficult at such an emotional time.
The first task is to gather information regarding the deceased and the assets owned by them. A checklist of the documents to look for before meeting with us is available and we can then deal with all of the correspondence on your behalf.
We have many years of experience in dealing with the administration of estates — from the smallest and most straightforward, to complex and high value estates.
We can help you through this difficult process by obtaining the Grant of Probate on your behalf. We will also undertake the collecting and distributing of assets.
How much does this service cost?
For a simple estate we will normally quote you a fixed fee.
For example, an estate worth £200,000 with no more than 2 executors and no more than 2 beneficiaries where there is no Inheritance Tax to pay and a Grant of Probate is required, including obtaining the Grant, collecting assets and distributing them we would charge the following fixed fees:
Legal fees £2500
VAT on legal fees £500
As part of our fixed fee we will:
- Provide you with a dedicated and experienced probate solicitor to work on your matter
- Identify the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries
- Accurately identify the type of Probate application you will require
- Obtain the relevant documents required to make the application
- Complete the Probate Application and the relevant HMRC forms
- Draft a legal oath for you to swear
- Make the application to the Probate Court on your behalf
- Obtain the Probate
- Collect and distribute all assets in the estate
On average, estates that fall within this range are dealt with within 3-5 months. Typically, obtaining the grant of probate takes 6-10 weeks. Collecting assets then follows, which can take between 3-6 weeks. Once this has been done, we can distribute the assets, which normally takes 3-6 weeks.
For more complex estates, where we don’t feel able to give a fixed fee quote, we usually charge according to the “Law Society Formula”, which is a combination of an hourly rate (currently usually between £211 and £230 + VAT per hour) plus a value element. This is usually 0.5% of the value of any residence and 1% of the value of the rest of the estate.
Disbursements (Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process):
- Probate court fee of £155 (£250 from April 2019).
- £7 swearing of the oath (per executor).
- Bankruptcy-only Land Charges Department searches (£2 per beneficiary).
- £170 advert in The London Gazette and local newspaper – Protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors (if appropriate).
Additional fees in certain circumstances
The following are likely to increase our fees (in which case we will quote an additional fixed fee):
- Inheritance Tax is payable
- A full Inheritance Tax Account (IHT400) is required
- More than 2 executors
- More than 2 beneficiaries
- Foreign assets
- Lost share certificates
- More than 1 property
- Business assets
- Agricultural land
- More than 2 certificated shareholdings
- A trust under the will
- Assets held under trust or in a pension
- Missing beneficiaries
- Trust under a predeceased spouse’s will
- Trust that aggregates with the estate for tax purposes
- Lifetime gifts
- A claim or threat of a claim from a disappointed beneficiary
- A solicitor acts as an executor
- We are responsible for clearing the house
- The extent or nature of assets in the estate are difficult to ascertain
- More than 2 meetings are required
- A large number of communications from any beneficiary or executor
Costs information is general and we will give more precise and personalised information in individual matters.