Transparency in price and service
The following information is provided to give you an understanding of our general prices for particular areas of work that we undertake. Please be aware that this information is not to be regarded as an offer of engagement, as the terms of our instruction will be agreed in our Client care letter and terms of business, which are sent to you at the outset of a matter
Conveyancing: online quote generator
We have provided an online quote generator for purchase, sale, remortgage and purchase & sale transactions. The instant quote is provided online. The quote will detail legal fees and disbursements.
Probate: Range of costs and fixed fee
How we can help you when someone dies
We know how upsetting and stressful it can be when a loved one dies. Dealing with the associated legal, tax and administrative process can add to the distress. That is why Howe & Spender offer professional advice and guidance throughout the administration of an estate and will support to you as the Executor (where there is a Will) or the Administrator (where there is no Will) as much as you wish and we are able to offer the following services:
a) Bespoke service
b) Fixed fee Grant of Probate only Application
Which option is right for you?
Grant Only Application
We can prepare the papers to apply for a Grant of Representation and will lodge the application on your behalf, but you will obtain, and provide to us, all the information that is required as part of the application, namely, the information that is required from the banks, building societies, NS&I, shareholdings, insurance companies and any other asset holders and you will arrange for us to receive the valuation of any property etc, in accordance with HMRC requirements, so that we can value the gross estate and also full details of sources of income and estate liabilities, so that we can calculate the value of the net estate.
You will also provide us with the original Will (if a Will exists) unless the Will is already held by us.
Once the Grant has been issued, we will supply you with prints of the Grant so that you can contact the banks and other asset holders, collect in the funds and deal with the settlement of liabilities and thereafter the distribution of the estate yourself, to the beneficiaries.
This service involves an initial meeting to discuss the estate and to advise what information needs to be obtained, as summarised above.
Our costs for this service will be:
- £600.00 + VAT
- £1,000.00 + VAT (where the HMRC form IHT400 is required but no inheritance tax payable)
- Between £1,500.00 + VAT – £2000.00 + VAT (where the form IHT400 is required and where there is inheritance tax to pay)
- Probate Court fee (£273.00 plus £1.50 per sealed copy of the Grant)
If you require our assistance in dealing with other matters, there will be an additional charge based on the amount of time spent in dealing with thee matters and we will advise you of this e.g. distributing the estate, Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax and any subsequent Inheritance Tax queries raised by HMRC, preparing any Deed of Variation, liaising with the Department for Works & Pensions. An indication of our hourly rates in connection with such additional matters is set out below,
Please note that if there is a property, the cost of the sale/transfer does not form part of the above costs indication and will be addressed separately.
This is very much dependant on the matters involved and how long it takes you to provide the necessary information and documents to us. Once we are in possession of all details required to apply for a Grant of Probate, we will look to undertake the preparation of the probate application within 14 working days.
The Probate Registry aims to process grants within 10 working days.
We are frequently instructed by the Executor or Administrator to act on their behalf in the administration of the entire estate.
In summary, this involves going through the documentation to find out what assets and liabilities must be taken into account and obtaining valuations as appropriate.
Once identified, and approved by you, we will then (1) liaise with H M Revenue & Customs (HMRC) regarding Inheritance Tax and Income Tax requirements and (2) compile and submit the application to the Probate Registry for the Grant of Representation.
In calculating any liability to Inheritance Tax, we will establish what exemptions may apply so that accurate settlement can be made to HMRC. This may involve, for example, obtaining details of the date of marriage of a deceased person and details of the estate of the spouse who died first.
Once the Grant has been issued, we will send copies to the banks, company registrars etc to collect in the funds or transfer the assets to the beneficiaries.
We will then discharge any debts and specific gifts left to beneficiaries and arrange for any property to be placed on the market.
We will prepare an Estate Account for approval and distribute the estate in accordance with it once has been approved by the Executor or Administrator and by the residuary beneficiaries.
The Estate account is a document that sets out the details of all of the assets made and the balance due to the beneficiaries. This may be needed in the future if beneficiaries ever need to establish what they have inherited.
Once the administration of the estate is finalised, we will distribute the estate.
During the administration of the estate, we will work closely with you throughout.
When we are instructed on a bespoke basis, our costs are based on the time that we spend on the file at our hourly rate, which, for partners in the Firm, will be between £185 to £250 per hour plus VAT. It is also usual to apply a “value element” to the costs – typically this can be at 0.5% on the value of a property and at 1% on the remainder of the gross estate, to which VAT would be added.
As every estate is different, an accurate cost estimate will be given in each estate as soon as possible. You will be kept fully updated about this.
By illustration, a straight forward estate when all the assets are in the UK would cost somewhere in the region of £1,250 – £3,500 plus VAT and other payments.
A straight forward estate could be where:
- There is a valid Will
- There is no more than one property
- There are no more than 5 bank or building society accounts
- There are no more than 3 beneficiaries, who can be easily traced
- There are no shareholdings
- There are no disputes between beneficiaries on the division of estate assets
- There is no Inheritance Tax payable and the Executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC
- There are no claims against the estate
Payments in addition:
- Probate Court fee (£273.00 plus £1.50p per sealed copy of the Grant)
- Bankruptcy Searches £2 per beneficiary
- Between £90 to £350 including VAT for “statutory advertisements” in the London Gazette and in a local newspaper or newspapers. These protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors.
- Other payments (such as valuation fees, unclaimed assets search fees) may also be incurred. If appropriate, you will be advised of the cost of these payments once your specific instructions have been received.
Please be aware that if there is the property, the cost of the sale/transfer will be addressed separately.
Where an estate is not straight forward, perhaps because of issues that are disclosed to us at the outset, or that we uncover as the estate administration progresses, then whilst the hourly rates (referred to above) will not increase, the time expended clearly will, which will lead to an increase in costs. In such cases, costs, without VAT and payments to others can be at least £5,000.00 and can exceed £10,000.00.
Matters that may impact upon costs can be, for example: disagreements between Executors, finding assets after a Grant of Probate has been applied for, disputes between beneficiaries as to who should perhaps inherit a particular item of jewellery, advising on claims against the estate and the role of the Executor or Administrator.
We will advise upon any Deed of Renunciation for an Executor who may not wish to act.
We will advise upon any Deed of Variation to the estate, linked to Inheritance Tax or to the personal circumstances of a beneficiary.
We will advise of the potential for any claim against the estate under the provisions of the Inheritance (Provisions for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and the time frame to be taken into account when distributing an estate
These examples are not meant to be exhaustive but are an indication of matters that can arise.
The first step of administering an estate is to ascertain what the estate comprises. Depending on the value and type of assets, it may or may not be necessary to apply for a Grant of Representation from the Probate Registry.
If the deceased owned a property in their sole name, it is always necessary to obtain this Grant. If the deceased did not solely own property, it will depend on the value of the assets in their names.
A Grant of Representation is a court order which confirms the authority of the person (or persons) dealing with the estate. If there is a Will, the Executors apply for a Grant of Probate. If there is no Will, the next of kin (the Administrator) applies for Letters of Administration.
In order to apply for a Grant of Representation, the following steps must be taken:
- Go through the deceased’s personal papers to find out what assets and liabilities need to be taken into account and obtain formal valuations as at the date of death of all assets including bank and building society accounts, insurance policies, bonds, stocks and shares, the property and contents (obtaining professional valuations as appropriate). This usually takes four to six weeks but is very much dependant on how quickly we receive responses.
- Compile and submit the application to the Probate Registry for the Grant of Representation. If there is a Will, the original is sent to the Probate Registry and is retained by them – the original Will is not returned to us with the Grant. The Probate Registry aims to issue the Grant within ten working days of receiving the application. If it is necessary to file a report with HMRC and/or pay Inheritance Tax, the Grant of Representation is usually received within four to six weeks.
- Notify the beneficiaries.
- Once the Grant is issued, it must be lodged with the holders of the assets e.g. banks, building societies, company registrars, to collect in the funds or transfer the assets to the beneficiaries. We will seek your instructions on whether assets are to be sold or transferred. It can take in the region of six weeks to receive any encashed funds or confirmation of transfers.
- When sufficient monies have been released, we will pay any debts and any specific payments left to beneficiaries unless you specifically tell us otherwise.
- Ascertain and maintain the insurance of any property
- Arrange for any property to be sold
- Place advertisements in accordance with the Trustee Act to protect the estate against unknown claims.
- Prepare and submit tax returns to finalise the tax affairs of the deceased and consider whether a claim for refund of overpaid income tax should be made to HMRC.
- If a trust arises e.g. because a beneficiary is under 18 or under the age specified in the Will, seek financial advice and set up appropriate investments for the money until due to the beneficiaries
It is not usually possible for us to say precisely how long the administration will take. This depends on what the estate comprises, what arises (e.g. where share certificates are missing or where an investment cannot be encashed without incurring penalties) and matters can be complicated further if a beneficiary cannot easily be located, if a claim or dispute arises in the estate or, e.g. there is a business that needs to be wound up or a property remains to be sold. In cases where the deceased was in receipt of a means tested benefit, the Department for Works and Pensions may decide to investigate and claim back any overpayments made. This may take months to resolve. An estate that is not straight forward can take more than 12 months to administer, particularly if it is necessary to consider the potential of claims under the provisions of the Inheritance (Provisions for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Why choose Howe & Spender?
WIQS Client Charter – The Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Protocol
We are pleased to inform you that we are one of only a few Firms in Wales to be an accredited member of the Law Society WIQS and we are proud to have achieved the high standards of practice and integrity required to achieve this.
This Scheme’s logo is your guarantee that our practice will provide high quality will drafting, probate and estate administration services.
What we will do for you
We will carry out our work for you in accordance with the good practice standards of the Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Protocol. This means that we will:
- treat you with dignity and respect;
- be polite and considerate;
- use clear language and keep legal jargon to a minimum;
- explain what the costs are likely to be and how we charge;
- advise you on the issues and the options for dealing with them;
- explain what you can expect from us;
- carry out our work in a timely manner;
- respond promptly to your enquiries, and keep you informed of our progress.