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Probate & Estates where there is a Will

Where someone dies leaving a Will, its contents should state who can apply for Probate and what is to happen to the deceased’s property and possessions.

Who can apply for Probate?

You can apply for Probate if you’re named in the deceased person’s Will (or ‘Codicil’) as an ‘Executor’.  An Executor is responsible for sorting out the Estate of the person who has died and in the normal course, the nominated Executor(s) will be advised of their appointment around the time that the Will is drafted.

Find the original Will

If you have been nominated to act as a deceased person’s Executor you need the original Will to be able to apply for Probate.  The person who has died should have previously informed all of their nominated Executors where to find the original Will.  Most Wills will be retained at the makers house or with the solicitor who drafted it. We may be able to help find an original Will for you.

What if there is more than one Will?

If there is more than one Will, only the most recent Will is valid. It is wise not to destroy copies of any earlier Wills until you’ve received Probate.

What if the Will names more than one executor?

If more than one person is named as an Executor, all of the nominated Executors must agree who makes the application for Probate.  Up to four executors can be named on the Probate application.  If only one executor applies for Probate they will need to prove that they tried to contact all of the Executors named in the Will before they applied.

What should you do if you do not want to be an Executor?

The Will may name a replacement Executor for someone who becomes ‘unwilling or unable’ to deal with the estate.  If you are a named Executor and you do not wish to apply for Probate you should do one of the following:

  • Formally renounce your right to be an Executor by completing a Deed of Renunciation 
  • Reserve your right to apply for Probate at a later date leaving another nominated Executor to apply for Probate in the first instance.  This is known as holding ‘power reserved’.
  • Nominate an Attorney to make the application for Probate on your behalf.  The Attorney will also be required to deal with the administration of the Estate once Probate has been granted.

What should you do if you are unable to apply for Probate?

A replacement Executor should apply for Probate if the nominated Executor is unable to apply because they have themselves passed away or if they have lost mental capacity.

Eric Robinson Solicitors is here to help

At Eric Robinson Solicitors we will help you deal with all aspects relating to Probate. Whether it is establishing whether a grant of representation is required, arranging valuations, drafting the Probate application papers, gathering in assets, settling liabilities, dealing with any tax issues, or dealing with the distribution of the deceased’s remaining assets, we will be on hand to assist. 

We can also give you comprehensive advice on the tax implications of administering an estate, and we’ll help you set up trusts and deal with variations to a Will after death.

What is the cost of Estate administration?

Where we are instructed to apply for a Grant, collect, and then distribute assets, we anticipate this will take between 12 and 18 hours of work on average, at our current hourly rate of £260 + VAT (£312). Some of our lawyers are charged at less than this rate and some will be charged at more than this rate. 

Total costs are estimated at not less than £3120 to £4680 + VAT (£3744 to £5616).

The exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter. For example, if there is one beneficiary and no property, costs will be at the lower end of the range. If there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, costs will be at the higher end.

We will handle the full process for you from start to conclusion. This quotation is for estates where:

  • There is a valid will, which is produced on instruction by the executors, and does not contain any trusts
  • The death has been registered
  • There is no more than one property, which is free of any mortgage
  • There are no more than 5 bank or building society accounts
  • The assets are held in the UK with none held in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
  • There are no loans or other arranged debts to settle
  • There are no other intangible assets such as shares and life policies
  • There are between 1 and 4 beneficiaries
  • There are no disputes between beneficiaries regarding the division of assets. If a dispute arises, 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 HM Revenue and Customs
  • There are no claims made against the estate
  • It is not necessary to prepare and submit a formal tax return for the period of administration

Disbursements to be added to this fee:

  • Probate application fee of £155
  • Land Charges Registry bankruptcy searches (£2 per beneficiary)
  • Approximately £82 to post in The London Gazette – Protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors (not always applied for)
  • Approximately £110 to post in a Local Newspaper – This also helps to protect against unexpected claims (not always applied for)

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 an efficient process.

Potential additional costs

  • Where the estate falls outside the scope of work set out above, there are likely to be additional costs that could range significantly depending on the estate and how it is to be dealt with. We can give you a more accurate quotation once we have more information. For example, additional costs may arise where:
    • there is no will;
    • the estate consists of various share holdings (stocks and bonds), foreign and other intangible assets; and
    • there is Inheritance Tax to pay.
  • If any additional copies of the grant are required, they will cost £1.50 each (1 per asset usually);
  • The cost of dealing with the sale or transfer of any property in the estate is not included.
  • The cost of dealing with the setting up and administration of any trusts which arise from the Will is not included.
  • The beneficiaries wish to undertake a post death variation 

How long will this take?

On average, our experience suggests that estates falling within the range set out above, are concluded within about 6 to 12 months. Typically:

  • Obtaining information to enable a Grant of Probate to be made, takes 12 to 16 weeks
  • obtaining the Grant of Probate takes 8 and 12 weeks from submission to the Probate Registry;
  • collecting assets then follows, which can take between 6 to 8 weeks; and
  • once this has been done, we can prepare estate accounts and distribute the assets. This normally takes in the order of 4 to 8 weeks. 

This timescale is on the basis that:

  • where there is a property to sell, the sale process runs in tandem with the probate administration;
  • there is no requirement to correspond with HM Revenue and Customs, other than to seek confirmation that there is no requirement to submit an income tax return; and
  • the third parties with whom the deceased dealt, correspond within a reasonable timeframe

Are Fixed Fees Available?

Sometimes executors may wish to instruct us only to obtain a Grant of probate or a Grant of letters of Administration where there is no will. We are happy to accept such instructions on the assumption that no inheritance tax is payable. Where all relevant financial information is provided to us by the Personal Representatives we will obtain the Grant for a fixed fee of £1000 + VAT (£1200)  and for this sum, we will:

  • provide an initial attendance
  • consider all financial and other information provided
  • prepare the Return of Estate Information form on form IHT205 for approval and signature (but where the estate requires a full Inheritance Tax Account on form IHT400 to be prepared, which is far more complex, our fixed fee will be £2000 + VAT (£2400))
  • where a form IHT400 is required, submit this in advance of the probate application to HM Revenue and Customs
  • prepare the application for the Grant 
  • submit the documentation to the probate Registry
  • provide the Grant and office copies to the Personal Representatives 

If you require help to ascertain the date of death details of assets and liabilities, we can do this work for you, but our fixed fees will then be £2000 + VAT (£2400) where a Return of Estate Information form (IHT205) is completed and £3000 + VAT (£3600) where an Inheritance Tax account is required (form IHT 400).

No other work is included within this fixed fee, leaving you free to obtain all assets, pay all liabilities and account to the beneficiaries entirely by yourself. Where you do require us to undertake additional work, it will be the subject of an entirely separate and bespoke quotation.

Disbursements with Grant only Fixed Fee Work, will comprise only the Probate application fees of £155 and the cost of any Office Copy Grants you may require at the rate of £1.50 per copy.