Probate and Estate Administration

Coping with bereavement is one of the hardest things you will ever have to deal with. When someone dies there are various formalities that have to be dealt with. We can provide you with practical help at such a stressful and sad time.

Administering an individual’s estate can be very time consuming.  It can also be cathartic. Autumn Years Law can provide you with a personal, cost effective service tailored to your specific needs. This may include providing you with initial guidance through to obtaining the grant of probate or alternatively a full administration of the estate.  Either way we are happy to provide as little or as much assistance as you need.

We are all unique individuals and when dealing with probate, each and every estate is different. There are always common steps that take place whilst dealing with probate but there are also so many variable factors. This means that the exact cost of instructing Autumn Years Law to assist you will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter.

Respecting everyone’s unique individuality we do not charge a blanket tiered fixed fee regardless of the amount of advice and practical work involved as we believe this is unfair. Instead, at the outset of instruction, using our experience and expertise we will be able to provide you with a fixed fee once we have had opportunity to determine the precise circumstances of the matter; the amount of advice and physical work required; and after taking into consideration the extent of legal assistance that you require. Some people instruct us to deal with all aspects of the estate, other people chose to instruct us for specific aspects of the estate.

Key stages in administering an estate include as follows:-

  • Advising on the terms of the Will / nature of the estate and consideration of the precise steps required as applicable to the individual estate
  • Verifying the identities of the Executors, the Beneficiaries; identifying the assets comprised in the estates and the value of such assets at the date of death together with determining the extent of liabilities of the estate, testamentary and funeral costs
  • Assisting the Executor with compliance with regulatory and legislative obligations placed upon the Executor
  • Preparing and making the application for probate together with the appropriate documentation for HM Revenues and Customs
  • Collecting in the assets of the estate and discharging the liabilities
  • Advising the Executor on protection from personal claims against the Executor arising from the Executor acting in the estate
  • Distributing the assets in accordance with the terms of the Will (or if applicable in accordance with the laws of intestacy)

The precise steps required and timescales involved will depend on the nature of the estate. Ordinarily it can take between six weeks to 12 weeks to obtain the grant of probate and thereafter approximately six months to conclude the administration of the estate, although this will depend on whether or not there is a property involved in the estate, or if the estate is a taxable estate. When we know what work will be required for your estate’s particular circumstances we will be able to provide more accurate timescales.

By way of indication (and drawing upon our many years of experience) we know that where we are instructed in advising upon and dealing with all aspects of an estate it takes on average between 5 to 30 hours of professional time to complete. However, some estates do take longer due to dealing with more complex estate matters such as international assets, business ownership or managing the deceased property until sale. Please note our fees for Probate and Estate Administration DO NOT include the cost of transfer of a property (i.e. conveyancing fees).

Our present hourly rate is £240 per hour. Work is charged on a time basis and is calculated in units of one tenth unit of the hourly rate. This means that costs for an estate are between £1,200 and £7,200.

Autumn Years Law Ltd is not registered for VAT and therefore the fees are not subject to VAT.

In summary, our fees for:-

  • A probate matter taking 5 hours is circa £1,200
  • A probate matter taking 10 hours is circa £2,400
  • A probate matter taking 15 hours is circa £3,600
  • A probate matter taking 20 hours is circa £4,800
  • A probate matter taking 30 hours is circa £7,200

To comply with regulatory requirements we also conduct a client due diligence search on all clients at the outset of the matter, which is included in our probate fees. We pay both pecuniary legacies and the residuary estate by cheque. If a BACS transfer is requested our fee for this is £25 per transfer. Please note we are unable to accept bank account payment details by email.

Administering an estate can be time consuming, especially for a lay individual who is not familiar with the process and is also likely to be dealing with the emotional aspect of their loss. As a highly experienced professional Elizabeth Foggin is able to deal with an estate expediently as we already have all of the processes in place, reducing the physical amount of time it would take a lay individual to deal with each task.

The precise amount of fees and likely disbursements applicable to your estate and the extent and scope of the work that you wish to instruct us to perform will be discussed and agreed with you at the outset of the matter.

Dealing with the administration of an estate also incurs various costs (disbursements) in addition to our fees. These costs may include, but are not limited to:-

  • Court fees for obtaining a Grant of Probate – £155 (additional copies of the Grant are £0.50p per copy)
  • Obtaining a view of the registered title of land – £3 per title obtained
  • Bankruptcy searches on Executors and on beneficiaries – £2 per name searched and per search
  • Where an Oath is required to be sworn the swear fee is £5 per individual and an additional £2 per document being exhibited
  • Where Statutory Notices to protect Executors from unknown liabilities are appropriate the average costs for placement in the London Gazette and the local newspaper are typically in the region of between £165-£200.

This list of disbursements is not exhaustive and will depend on the nature of your instruction, although you will be advised at the outset of any such costs or during the conduct of the matter should such expenditure become necessary.

For the avoidance of doubt the payment of any tax (for example Inheritance Tax) is not a disbursement but a liability of an estate and will be required to be settled from estate funds accordingly.

Dealing with the administration of an estate is a responsible job and Executors are personally liable in the event that they get something wrong – this might not become apparent until after the Executor has distributed the estate. It is therefore important that Executors obtain timely advice, not only to deal with the estate expediently but also to protect themselves from liability.

Professional Executor Appointments

Where the deceased has appointed Autumn Years Law as Executors, and in accordance with Law Society guidance, there is an additional fee payable. The fee is based on the value of the estate, reflecting the importance of the matter and the responsibility of the professional appointment. The fee for the responsibility element of appointment is calculated as 0.75% of any land in the estate together with 1.5% of the remaining gross estate. In accordance with Law Society guidance these fees were discussed with and approved by the deceased at the time of making the professional appointment.

Deed of Variation

Sometimes after someone has died, an individual might decide that their financial circumstances make appropriate for them not to receive their share of the estate.  We can advise and prepare the necessary documentation to ensure that any such gift is made in the most inheritance tax efficient manner.  Please be aware a Deed of Variation must be completed within two years of the individual’s death.