Wills and Probate Solicitors
When a loved one dies leaving a Will, its contents should state who can apply for Probate as well as what is to happen to the deceased’s estate, which is generally made up of their money, property and possessions.
What is a Grant of Representation?
A Grant of Representation is a legal document that the UK Probate Registry issues to authorise a person to administer the deceased person’s estate. When there is a Will the Grant of Representation is known as a ‘Grant of Probate’. If there is no Will, it is known as a ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’.
Who can apply for a Grant of Probate?
You can apply for a Grant of Probate if you’re named in the deceased person’s Will (or ‘Codicil’) as an ‘executor’. An executor is responsible for the estate administration of the person who has died. In the normal course, the person nominated should be advised of their appointment around the time that the Will is drafted but this is not essential.
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 can be found be at the deceased person’s house or with the solicitor who drafted it. We may be able to help with the search for original Wills particularly where the firm who drafted the Will is no longer around. We can use our expertise to search against a government website that will highlight any relevant former trading name or company number that should highlight the relevant successor practice.
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 multiple executors?
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 other executors named in the Will.
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 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 person nominated is unable to apply because they have themselves passed away or if they have lost mental capacity.
How can our Wills & probate solicitors help?
Our wills and probate solicitors are here to offer expert legal advice and services to clients from any of our offices in regard to all aspects of the probate process.
Probate, estates, trusts and estate administration, is complex. You will need a private client representative from a law firm on your side to talk you through the detail. Our solicitors are wills and probate specialists with expertise in several areas including: inheritance tax, tax planning, trusts, property law and family law.
At Eric Robinson our private client solicitors can offer fully authorised and regulated wills and probate advice to help you deal with all aspects of the UK probate process. Whether it is establishing whether a Grant of Representation is required, arranging valuations, drafting probate application papers, gathering in assets, settling liabilities, establishing trusts, dealing with tax planning or any Capital Gains Tax, or dealing with the distribution of the deceased’s remaining assets, we will be on hand with our expertise.
Our probate solicitors are experts and pride themselves on client care and they are experienced in sensitively assisting families and individuals with the post-death affairs and estates of loved ones. We have a team of probate lawyers across our offices who are ready to assist and provide advice with any probate problem or issues. We can give you comprehensive legal 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. We offer fully authorised and regulated estate administration and probate services to families and individuals across England and Wales and we have over 50 years of experience on our side. Call us or visit our website today.
What is the cost of estate administration?
For estates where our solicitors are instructed to apply for a UK 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 private client probate solicitors are charged at less than this rate and some will be charged at more than this rate.
Total costs for this grade of service are estimated at not less than £3120 + VAT (£624) to £4680 + VAT (£936).
The exact solicitors costs for the advice and services will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter. For example, if there is one beneficiary and no property, our advisors costs will be at the lower end of the range. If there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, then our advisors costs will be at the higher end.
We will handle the full process for you from start to conclusion. This service 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 UK based property, which is free of any mortgage
- There are no more than 5 UK based 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 (no VAT)
- Land Charges Registry bankruptcy searches (£2 per beneficiary) (no VAT)
- Approximately £82 to post in The London Gazette – Protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors (not always applied for) (VAT inclusive)
- Approximately £110 to post in a Local Newspaper – This also helps to protect against unexpected claims (not always applied for) (VAT inclusive)
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees or advertising charges. We handle the payment of the disbursements on behalf of clients to ensure an efficient process.
Potential additional costs
- Where the estate and advice 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, these will cost £1.50 each (1 per asset usually);
- The cost of any service for dealing with the sale or transfer of any property in the estate is not included.
- The cost of any service for dealing with the setting up and administration of any trusts which arise from the Will is not included.
- If the beneficiaries wish to undertake a post death variation to the Will then this service will incur a further charge for the advice.
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 property in England and Wales 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
Where clients 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 clients 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.
Our Wills solicitors are experts in all probate matters and trusts. We understand family wealth and affairs is a sensitive area for every client, and every family situation is different. If you would like to speak to a probate solicitor from our team about an issue you are facing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and contact one of our offices today.
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