Probate Information

When a person dies, effectively, everything which they owned and everything which they owed is referred to as their estate. If they left a will, they will have appointed one or more executors whose job will be to implement the terms of their will.

If the deceased did not leave a will, they are said to have died ‘intestate’ and the rules of intestacy apply to the distribution of their estate. A close family member will usually apply to the court for Letters of Administration which is a court order to give them authority to act on behalf of the estate. They are then referred to as the Administrators or Personal Representatives of the Estate.

If there is a Will, executors automatically have authority to deal with many issues, but they may need to apply to the court for the Grant of Representation (often referred to as the grant of probate), if there is land or there are other substantial assets to be dealt with, in order to prove that they are the persons formally authorised to deal with the estate. They are also, sometimes, referred to as Personal Representatives of the Estate.

Personal Representatives must establish the value of the estate, gather in any assets, pay off any liabilities, pay any inheritance tax and then divide the estate according to the will. Where there is no will, they must deal with the estate according to the rules of intestacy. If there are insufficient assets to pay all the debts or to pay everyone named under the will, the law sets out the order in which liabilities and gifts made under a will have to be paid.

If you are an executor or want to apply to become the administrator of an estate based in England and Wales, Marshalls can assist you.

If you would like our assistance please telephone us on 01752 254555 for an initial consultation or contact us by email on our contact form

Costs and Services Information

When we act for you in relation to the administration of an estate (commonly referred to as dealing with Probate) we are required to give you as much information as we can about our charges, the key stages of the service which we provide, whether VAT is payable and the likely timescale. We have set out below as much information as we can.

Total cost of our service or where not practicable the average cost or range of costs

When a person dies, the value of their estate and the complexity involved in administering it can vary considerably. The deceased might have lived in a rented property and have a small amount of savings or they might own a substantial property portfolio, have many investments, own land and business interests in the UK and overseas. It is, therefore, difficult to provide an estimate of likely costs in every case. We offer an initial free consultation when this can be discussed and once we are clear about might be required we can give you a detailed breakdown of likely costs, vat and disbursements. In some cases we can agree a fixed fee with you. You can then decide whether to proceed. Where we cannot, give you a fixed fee, we can still give you our best estimate of likely costs, vat and disbursements and will review that regularly as the matter proceeds.

Applying to the Court for the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration:

Some clients prefer to gather in details of the value of the assets and liabilities of the deceased at the date of death and then ask us to assist them to apply to the court for the grant of Representation on their behalf. Once that has been granted they will then handle the rest of the administration themselves by converting any assets into cash, paying off any liabilities themselves and dividing the estate according to the will or the rules of intestacy. Providing that all the relevant information is given to us, our fee to do the work necessary to apply to the court for the Grant of Representation, for an estate where Inheritance tax is not payable is £500.00 plus vat of £100.00 (total £600.00) plus court fees of £158.00.

The key stages of the work which this fee covers are –

  • · Dealing with the formalities to establish your identity and address and to comply with any money laundering requirements which apply to us
  • · Sending you a questionnaire to enable you to provide us with the required information and documentation to complete the paperwork. (If you send incomplete information and you ask us to obtain it, additional work is charged at our hourly rate, referred to below and we will give you an estimate of the likely additional costs as soon as we become aware of what is required).
  • · Reading the information sent. Preparing IHT205 or IHT400 tax forms to be sent to HM Revenue and Customs or the Court to inform them of the value of the estate and to establish whether or not inheritance tax is payable.
  • · Preparing the outline paperwork to lodge an application at court for the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration via the online Court portal.
  • · Arranging for you to check and sign the required paperwork to allow the application to be dealt with by the court.
  • · Submitting the required papers to the court, arranging for the court fee to be paid and dealing with any queries the court may have
  • · Reporting to you once the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration has been received from the Court and sending the Grant and two copies to you
  • Administering the Estate and Applying to the Court for the Grant of Probate

Some clients prefer to instruct us to deal with the administration of the estate as well as to apply to the court for the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration.

The key steps include:

  • Dealing with the formalities to establish your identity and address and to comply with any money laundering requirements which apply to us
  • Sending you a questionnaire to enable you to provide us with the required information and documentation to complete the paperwork.
  • Arranging payment for the funeral from the deceased’s assets, if required.
  • Writing to the debtors and creditors of the estate and to banks and building societies mentioned in the paperwork supplied by you. Arranging for the valuation of assets, where required, by an appropriate professional.
  • Arranging an advertisement with the London Gazette, if required
  • Arranging a search of UK investment institutions if required and the Certainty National Wills database to ensure there is no other will.
  • Reading information received and preparing IHT205 or IHT400 tax forms to establish whether inheritance tax is payable. Liaising with you to arrange payment of Inheritance tax.
  • Preparing the paperwork to lodge the application at court for the Grant of Probate via the online Court portal.
  • Arranging for you to check and sign the required paperwork to allow the application to be lodged with the court.
  • Submitting the required papers to the court, arranging for the court fee to be paid and dealing with any queries the court may have
  • Reporting to you once the Grant of Probate has been received from the Court.
  • Gathering in the assets of the estate, for example, by closing bank accounts, cashing in shares, receiving the proceeds of insurance policies, and settling the liabilities of the estate
  • Preparing estate accounts to show the sums received in and paid out and agreeing those with you
  • Accounting to the beneficiaries for the sums due to them.

Timescales:

If we are asked only to make an application for probate – from receipt of all the required information it is taking about 4 months, on average, for the Grant of Representation to be made. Once the papers are lodged at court, we have no control over how quickly they will be dealt with and at times, in the past two years, there have been much longer waiting periods

If we are asked to deal with the administration of the estate and to make an application for probate/letters of administration – In most cases the administration of an estate should be concluded within 12 months. Where foreign property is involved, this is likely to be much longer because lawyers in the relevant jurisdiction might have to be instructed and their procedures followed. If information relating to the estate is missing or there are any civil claims against the estate the estate administration could be considerably longer

We will endeavour to provide an estimate of likely timescales as soon as we have sufficient information. We are qualified only under English law and instruct agents to handle any foreign element of the estate. We are guided by them regarding timescales.

The basis upon which you are charged including our hourly rates and fixed fees where these apply

For an average matter, for example, where the deceased owned a property, held some shares and savings in bank and building society accounts and they were retired or were an employee (rather than in business) we are often able to offer a fixed fee of £1800.00 plus vat and plus disbursements. This is the most common fee which we charge. Our fixed fee does not include conveyancing costs so if a property needs to be sold, our usual conveyancing fees apply, and you can find out more about the likely costs for that on our website. Our fee does not include resolving any disputes relating to the estate and our usual hourly rate will apply to this type of work.

For more complex estates, such as where there are a business or overseas assets or substantial assets, or where other issues are involved, such as civil claims being made against the estate, claims being made by Government departments for the recovery of overpaid benefits, or the need to instruct professionals to act as agents to deal with overseas assets, our hourly charging rate will apply. This is £210.00 plus vat (currently £42.00) making a total of £252.00 per hour. This may be made up of spending time discussing the case with you, corresponding with you and with others, advising you, reading or preparing documents and in writing letters. It is not uncommon for estate administration costs in relation to a large or complex estate to be £10,000,00 to £20,000.00. Our hourly rate will apply to more complex estates, but we will still give you our best estimate of the overall likely cost, including vat and disbursements at commencement of the matter and will regularly review the estimate as the matter proceeds.

Experience and Qualifications of the persons carrying out work on your behalf

Probate cases are conducted by Denyse Marshall who is a solicitor who has been qualified for over 35 years with the assistance of Jo Rundle whom she supervises. Jo has a Business Degree and over 20 years’ experience in the legal sector.

The Cost of likely disbursements where we can give this and where we cannot, an average or range of costs

There are several expenses which must be paid to third parties during the administration of an estate. These vary depending on the type of estate with which we are dealing. As these fees are payable to third parties, we have no control over them and they may change.

At the present time, the following disbursements (which are not subject to VAT) are likely in every case:

  • The Court fee to apply to the court for the Grant or probate £155.00
  • Court fees to obtain Copies of the Grant £ 3.00

Common disbursements and payments which may be necessary, depending on the estate. Where VAT applies the rate is 20% and we have included details below:

  • Obtaining a residential property valuation. The cost varies from nil (if the average of several market appraisals can be used for a modest estate) to around £500.00 plus vat of £100.00 making a total of £600.00 per property where a formal valuation is required.
  • Obtaining a valuation of jewellery, artworks, or other assets (this varies depending on what is involved and the possibilities of what might need to be valued vary greatly). Typically the cost of a jewellery valuation or the valuation of an artwork will range from £50.00 – £500.00 plus VAT (£10.00 – £100) making a total of between £60.00 and £600.00 for each one. Once we know what assets are in the estate, we can give you an estimate tailored to your situation.
  • Obtaining a share valuation. The cost varies from nil, if the information is available from public sources as it often is, to £5000.00 plus vat of £1000.00 (total £6,000.00) for the valuation of commercial business assets or a substantial investment/commercial property portfolio
  • Advertising in the London Gazette and in a Local Newspaper to notify any creditors that they need to make their claim against the estate before you distribute the estate to the beneficiaries – Approximately £300.00 plus vat of £60.00, making a total of £360.00
  • Carrying out a Search via the Certainty National Wills register to see if another will exists and to see if there are UK accounts and investments of which you are unaware – £155.00 plus Vat of £31.00 making a total of £186.00

If you would like our assistance, please telephone us on 01752 254555 for an initial consultation or contact us by email on our contact form

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We offer a no obligation initial 30-minute free consultation to consider the likely cost and steps which may be necessary for any new matter. 

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