Our costs for dealing with probate
This page gives you information about our fees for dealing with an uncontested probate, including applying for the grant and collecting and distributing the assets in the estate, and the expenses you will incur in connection with our work.
Not all estates are the same, and the cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the estate. If you call one of our experienced probate team on 01223 578070 (Cambridge) or 01223 518317 (Histon) and provide us details of the estate, the general provisions of the Will (or confirm if no Will was left), we can give you a personalised quotation which will you give more details of our fees and all the expenses likely to be payable in your particular case.
Our probate team
Probate and estate administration are dealt with by Laura Hodsdon and Richard Lane in our Cambridge office, and by David Parker and Samuel Parr in our Histon office. David Parker is the head of our probate team.
You can find details of their qualifications and experience by following the link to Our People here
What work do you do in handling a probate?
We can help you through the process of obtaining probate and administering the estate at what can be an emotional and difficult time.
- check the provisions of the Will
- identify the personal representatives – executors (if a Will was left) or administrators (if no Will was left) who are entitled to administer the estate
- identify the beneficiaries of the estate
- help you to obtain full details of the assets and liabilities of the estate
- prepare an inheritance tax return for the personal representatives, if one is required
- prepare the personal representative’s oath (their undertaking to administer the estate properly)
- submit the inheritance tax return to HMRC (if the estate is a taxable estate or not an excepted estate)
- discuss with you arrangements for payment of inheritance tax due (on a taxable estate) – usually this is paid from available estate funds
- prepare an application for a grant of probate (where there is a Will) or letters of administration (where there is no Will) – the court document which enables the personal representatives to collect in the estate assets
- lodge the papers with the probate registry to obtain the grant of probate or letters of administration
- collect in the assets in the estate that are to be liquidated
- assist with resolving any enquiries raised by the HMRC in respect of the inheritance tax return
- pay the funeral expenses and other liabilities of the estate
- appropriate assets that are not to be liquidated to the relevant beneficiaries
- distribute the net estate to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will or the intestacy provisions, and
- prepare final estate accounts for the personal representatives detailing all of the assets collected and the debts paid and how they have been distributed.
What fees and expenses will I incur for you dealing with probate?
The total costs to you will be made up of:
- our fees
- expenses we incur, for example, probate court fees, and
- Inheritance Tax (IHT) if applicable.
Our fees and some expenses are subject to VAT, currently 20%. In the information below, figures in brackets include VAT.
We will look at each of these elements in turn.
Our fees include all the work normally involved in submitting the inheritance tax return, obtaining the grant of probate (or letters of administration), collecting the assets, paying off the liabilities and distributing the net estate. Our fees will reflect the value and nature of the property in the estate, whether or not there is a valid Will, if IHT is payable on the estate, and the number of beneficiaries.
In a simple case, our fees will range from £1,500 (£1,800 including VAT) to £3,500 (£4,200 including VAT). An example of a simple case would be one where the person who has died is survived by their spouse and:
- there is a valid Will
- no inheritance tax is payable
- their home is in joint names and held as joint tenants
- the assets to be collected and distributed are principally cash in only a few savings accounts or investments in shares
- no trust arises under the Will provisions
If the administration of the estate is more complicated or more time consuming to administer, our fees will normally range from £4,000 (£4,800) to £10,000 (£12,000).
In the most complex , high value cases or if more time intensive work is required our fees will likely be higher and would range from £10,000 (£12,000) to £150,000 (£180,000) but we will discuss the likely costs with you before we start work on such an estate.
Where partners in our firm are appointed as executors and trustees of the estate, we will charge for their work at an hourly rate of £235 (£282) plus a percentage of the value of the estate – 1.5% of the value of assets other than the principal residence where the value element would be 0.75% of the deceased’s share of that residence, in both cases plus VAT.
Our experienced probate team will be able to give you more accurate information on our fees when we have more information from you.
The expenses we will incur in the typical probate are:
- fee for swearing the personal representatives’ oath, £5-£9 (per personal representative)
- probate court fees of £155, but note that the Government is planning to significantly increase probate court fees in 2019.
- 50p each for additional copies of the grant of probate or letters of administration
- £2 – £3 for each beneficiary for a bankruptcy search
- £300-£600 for placing Trustee Act adverts (if the personal representatives require) in the London Gazette and a local newspaper where the deceased lived or held land , to protect against claims by unknown creditors.
Inheritance tax (IHT)
IHT is a tax which is charged at 40% of the value of the estate above any tax-free allowance that applies to the deceased’s estate (which could include a nil-rate band (of up to £325,000) and a residence nil-rate band (of up to £125,000 (currently)) and any reliefs that apply (some types of business assets and agricultural property are effectively free from IHT, and charitable gifts)
Sometimes the arrangements set out in a Will or that apply on intestacy are not the way in which the beneficiaries themselves would wish for the estate to be distributed or are not the most tax efficient distribution of the assets in the estate. If required, we could advise you on the effect of a Deed of Variation (also known as a Deed of Family Arrangement) if all effected beneficiaries were in agreement to amend the way in which the estate be distributed: this would involve additional fees being payable, as the preparation of a Deed of Variation is not part of the ordinary work of administering an estate.
When you provide us with the details of the property comprised in the estate and its value, along with any liabilities of the estate, and details of whether lifetime gifts were made by the deceased, we can guide you as to how much IHT will be payable on the estate.
Is everything included in your fees?
Our fees include all the legal work normally involved in administering an estate. Sometimes, when we look into the assets in the estate, we may find that additional work is required, in which case we will tell you and inform you what additional fees are likely to be incurred. Our fees for such unexpected work will be charged according the time we spend, at an hourly rate ranging (depending on the experience of the fee earner handling your transaction) from £150 (£180) to £250 (£300)
The information set out above on our fees does not include:
- dealing with the sale of any house or flat in the estate; or
- dealing with the finalisation of income tax affairs; or
- advising you on or preparing a Deed of Variation; or
- advising you on or preparing trust documentation if any estate assets are to be held on trust: or
- dealing with any litigation that could arise in relation to an estate.
How long does all this take?
- The time taken to gather all of the information we need to prepare the IHT return required and the application for the grant of representation and to receive the grant of representation depends on how complicated the estate is and the quality of the information provided to us by the personal representatives. On a simpler estate it will typically take between 2 – 3 months, but on a more complicated estate it could take between 2- 6 months (several valuations may be required to be obtained on unique or complicated assets (for example agricultural or business assets and whether relief can be claimed)).
- If the estate was taxable (or not an excepted estate), we would need to wait for HMRC to process the tax return submitted (this can typically take between 2-4 months) and on more complicated estates deal with any enquires that HMRC may have regarding the tax return submitted. If they do raise detailed enquiries (and carry out a compliance check) this can take up to a further 3 months or so, depending on the nature of the enquiries HMRC raise and the replies provided by the personal representatives and how far HMRC pursue those enquiries.
- Collecting in the assets of the estate and paying the liabilities can typically take a further 1 to 4 months following issue of the grant of representation (or longer depending on the nature of the investments, and whether any sums were invested in term deposit accounts where they are “locked in” for the initial term) Consideration also needs to be given as to whether any beneficiaries would like assets appropriated to them rather than liquidated, this can take time to agree and arrange depending on the complexity and the number of beneficiaries of the estate.
- Preparing the estate accounts and distributing the net assets will normally then take 4 weeks or so.
So the whole process, from beginning to end, can take between 4 and 18 months. Obviously, the simpler the estate, the quicker it can be finalised. If appropriate, Interim distributions to the beneficiaries can be made at times throughout the administration process if the personal representatives agree and authorise this.