Probate & Estate Administration Services
We regularly advise clients on a wide range of matters including the making of Wills, Powers of Attorney, Inheritance Tax advice, the creation of Trusts, obtaining Probate and Estate Administration.
Dealing with the personal affairs of someone who has died is often a mixture of difficult emotions and frustration. Sorting out an estate takes time and can be extremely complex.
As an executor or administrator, you are personally responsible for your actions and often control assets of significant value. It is therefore important that you understand your role and the probate and estate administration process. Otherwise, you could become personally liable if the estate is not administered correctly. At a minimum, it is a good idea to obtain some independent legal advice at the outset, so that you are aware of what is involved.
How can we help?
We can take the pressure off you by ensuring the estate is administered efficiently and with compassion, understanding and professionalism.
We are very happy to deal with the estate administration from start to finish for you. Otherwise, we can offer probate advice and assist on any particular aspect, from inheritance tax advice to help with practicalities such as recommending valuers and estate agents for selling a property.
We can also help those who inherit to plan their tax affairs and put a will of their own in place.
The work our probate lawyers would typically deal with as part of the estate administration would be:
- Finding out the full details of:
- the assets and liabilities of the estate;
- jointly owned properties;
- relevant lifetime gifts;
- interests in any trust;
- completing the necessary formalities to apply for and obtain the Grant of Representation;
- dealing with any inheritance tax payable (including advice on available reliefs and exemptions to keep tax liabilities to a minimum) and consideration where appropriate of the possibilities of a deed of variation to change the distribution of the estate or to save tax;
- dealing with any legacies;
- considering income and capital gains tax positions before and after death;
- collecting in the assets of the estate, discharging the liabilities and transferring the net estate, with accounts and tax certificates.
- dealing with any land or buildings, whether by sale or transfer. (On request, our property team will send a separate estimate of our fees for this work.)
Our estate administration fees
The following fees apply when all assets are in the UK:
Obtaining a UK Grant of Probate excluding full estate administration
Our fee for obtaining a Grant of Representation (Probate/Letters of Administration), to exclude full estate administration will be charged on a fixed fee basis when possible, depending on whether or not the estate is subject to Inheritance Tax (IHT) and whether a simple IHT Return can be completed or whether a full IHT Account needs to be completed:
Non-taxable estates where there is a will
Where no IHT is payable and a simple IHT Return can be submitted, then our fixed fee will be within the range of £850-£1,250 +VAT depending on the complexity of the estate.
If there is no IHT payable but a full account needs to be submitted then the fee then our fee will be within the range of £1,500-£2,000 +VAT.
These fees are on the basis that we are provided with full details of all assets and liabilities in the estate and that our involvement is limited to preparing the necessary papers to lead to the Grant of Probate.
Taxable estates where there is a will
Where IHT is payable and the deceased left a will, then our fee will be within the range of £2,000-£3,000 + VAT depending on the complexity of the estate. Again, this is on the basis that we are provided with full details of all assets and liabilities in the estate and that our involvement is limited to preparing the necessary papers to lead to the Grant of Probate.
Should you require assistance with ongoing communications with HMRC then we will charge our time for communicating with them and advising you of our hourly rates.
Should you require assistance with estate IHT planning/mitigation, deeds of variation, income/capital gains tax compliance, transfers of land, and any other “ad hoc” estate administration matters, then we will charge on a “time spent” basis in accordance with our published hourly rates. We will advise you in advance of the likely time and fees.
Full estate administration (UK) fees
Our fees in connection with the administration of your estate will be considered at the relevant time, based on the complexity of your estate, for example, taking into consideration whether a full IHT is required, the number of assets involved and whether there are any complicating factors.
We do not charge a premium for the administration of an estate where SPW partners are named as your executor(s).
We do not charge a “value element” in connection with our estate administration services.
Our fees are calculated based on the hourly rates applicable at the relevant time and which currently are £200 + VAT. Details of our current hourly charge-out rates will be included in our letter of engagement with you, but do ask if you require further detail.
If there is a continuing trust requiring administration then there will be ongoing fees after the administration of your estate has concluded.
Description and cost of likely disbursements
Throughout the administration of an estate, a number of expenses are likely to be incurred including:
Description of expense
When likely to be payable
During the course of administration
Bankruptcy Search Fees
During the course of administration but typically at the outset of the matter and/or when distributions are made to beneficiaries
£2 plus VAT for each search required
Probate court fees
When applying for the grant of representation (Probate or Letters of Administration)
£155 plus £1.50 for each office copy
We will do our best to arrange for these expenses to be met from the assets of the estate but where this is not possible (for example where no funds are available before a grant of representation is obtained), we may have to ask either you or a residuary beneficiary to put us in funds. Funding inheritance tax can be a particular problem in some estates, and we shall discuss this with you if this is relevant.
VAT is payable in addition to our charges and certain expenses.
Julia Stent is a Senior Associate Solicitor and is the head of our team. Julia supervises our UK probate and estate administration services.
Key Stages – Estate Administration
- 1 - Information gathering/pre Grant of Representation
Estate administration tends to be “front-loaded” and depending on the level of support you require, and whether LA members are named as executors, can include the following:
- registration of the death;
- securing any property and arranging insurance;
- liaising with family members/beneficiaries in connection with urgent matters;
- overseeing the organisation of the funeral;
- ascertaining full details of:
- the assets and liabilities of the estate;
- jointly owned properties;
- relevant lifetime gifts; and
- interests in any trust.
- 2 - Applying for the Grant of Representation / Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
- 3 - Dealing with post Grant of Representation matters
Services not included
Our estate administration fees do not include fees for dealing with any land or buildings, whether by sale or transfer. (On request, our property team will send a separate estimate of our fees for this work.)