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Wills & Probate

Probate & Estate Administration – Fee Structure

Nicola Waldman
Nicola Waldman
Partner
Philippa Barton
Philippa Barton
Partner
James Berry
James Berry
Senior Associate
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Josephine Russen
Associate
Ian Lane
Ian Lane
Consultant

Probate is the process required to obtain the legal authority to deal with the estate of someone who has passed away. Our experienced Wills & Probate team can assist with grants issued in the courts of England and Wales.

Probate consists of reporting to H M Revenue & Customs and applying for a Grant of Probate (if the person who died left a will) or administration (if the person who died didn’t leave a will). The estate is then administered in accordance with the will (or the intestacy rules) by collecting, distributing and accounting for the assets. 

In cases where a full report is required to be produced to H M Revenue & Customs on Form IHT400 we charge as set out in Section A.

In cases where the short form procedure using HMRC Form IHT205 is available and the matter is very straightforward, charging a fixed fee may be appropriate. The cost of our fixed fees are set out in Section B.

Section A: simple estates

We anticipate the probate process (on the basis detailed below) will take, on average, between 10 and 20 hours work. The rate of charge will depend on the seniority and experience of the person responsible for the work.

Hourly rates for qualified staff vary between £195 per hour plus VAT (charged at 20%) to £290 per hour plus VAT (charged at 20%). The lawyer allocated to assist you will depend on the complexity of the estate.

The following is only an estimate and it is based on a relatively simple estate as described below. At £195 per hour, the total costs would be between £1,950 to £3,900, plus VAT (charged at 20%) and disbursements.

For a more senior lawyer whose hourly rate is £290 per hour, the likely costs would be between £2,900 to £5,800, plus VAT (charged at 20%) and disbursements. For likely disbursements see below.

This estimate is only for estate administration where:

  • There is a valid will.
  • There is no more than one property.
  • There are no more than 2 bank or building society accounts.
  • There are no other intangible assets.
  • There are 5-10 beneficiaries and their addresses are known.
  • There are no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets. If disputes arise this will likely lead to an increase in costs.
  • There are no claims made against the estate.
  • There are no assets outside England and Wales.

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.

Disbursements

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 a smoother process. Depending on your individual circumstances, all or some of the following may be payable:

  • Probate application fee – currently £155.00.
  • Official copies of the Grant – currently £0.50 per copy.
  • Swearing of the oath (per executor) – £5 plus £2 per each exhibit (will and any codicils).
  • H M Land Registry Search fees – £3.00 per item.
  • Bankruptcy-only Land Charges Department searches – £2.00 per beneficiary.
  • Advertisements in The London Gazette and a local newspaper to protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors. The cost will depend on the advertising costs of the local newspaper but is usually between £150 and £300.

The work we have to do may include all, or some, of the following:

  • Collecting in detail the value of assets and liabilities in the estate.
  • Arranging a valuation of the property and personal effects.
  • Preparing the tax return to the date of death.
  • Contacting the utility companies.
  • Preparing the inheritance tax account IHT400 and all supplementary pages.
  • Preparing the oath for executors.
  • Calculating inheritance tax.
  • Advising on availability of any applicable exemptions.
  • Arranging to release funds to pay inheritance tax.
  • Dealing with all correspondence throughout.
  • Contacting beneficiaries.
  • Advertising for creditors.
  • Collecting assets.
  • Paying debts.
  • Preparing tax returns for the administration period.
  • Preparing estate accounts.
  • Preparing statements of income for beneficiaries.
  • Making interim and final distributions to residuary beneficiaries.

How long will this take?

On average, estates that fall within this range are dealt with in about 6 months. Typically, obtaining the grant of probate takes 8-10 weeks. Collecting assets then follows, which can take between 2-3 weeks. Once this has been done, we can distribute the assets, which normally takes 3-4 weeks.

What the above estimate doesn’t include:

  • Dealing with shareholdings (stocks and bonds).
  • The sale or transfer of any property in the estate. Hodge Jones & Allen don’t have a conveyancing team, so external solicitors would need to be engaged.
  • Advice on, and accounting for, lifetime giving.
  • Tax planning advice.
  • Advice on trusts in the will.
  • Advice on, and the preparation of, Deeds of Variation.
  • Will disputes or other potential claims against the estate (these are dealt with by our specialist Dispute Resolution team).

Complex estates

The estimate above is for a simple estate. Any potential additional matters (such as those not included in the estimate) will result in additional fees and disbursements. If an estate is more complex, we’ll provide you with a specific estimate of our proposed fees and any additional disbursements.

Section B: fixed fees

In very straightforward, non-taxable estates using the IHT205 procedure only, we can either: 

  1. Obtain the Grant of Probate only and the executors can administer the estate; or
  2. Obtain the Grant of Probate and administer and distribute the estate.

How much do these services cost?

  1. To obtain the Grant of Probate only:

Our fees – £1,500 plus VAT (charged at 20%) i.e. £1,800 total.
Disbursements – the likely disbursements are the same as set out in Section A above.
To commence this work on a fixed fee basis we’d need the following:
• The original will and any codicils to it.
• The Death Certificate or the Coroners Certificate of Proof of Death.
• Any required birth and/or marriage certificates.
• Your identification documents (passport/driving license and proof of address).
• Statements of the deceased’s assets such as bank statements or similar.

As part of our fixed fee we will:

• Provide you with a dedicated and experienced probate solicitor to work on your matter.
• Accurately identify the type of probate application you will require.
• Complete the Probate Application and the relevant HMRC forms.
• Draft a legal oath for you to swear.
• Make the application to the Probate Court on your behalf.
• Obtain the Probate and securely send the official copies of the Grant to you.

2. To obtain the Grant, administer the assets and distribute the estate: 

Our fees – £3,000 plus VAT (charged at 20%) i.e. £3,600 total.
Disbursements – the potential disbursements are as stated above in Option 1.
To commence this work on a fixed fee basis we’d need following:

  • The original will and any codicils to it.
  • The Death Certificate or the Coroners Certificate of Proof of Death.
  • Any required birth and/or marriage certificates.
  • Your identification documents (passport/driving license and proof of address).
  • Statements of the deceased’s assets such as bank statements or similar.As part of our fixed fee we will:
  • Provide you with a dedicated and experienced probate solicitor to work on your matter.
  • Obtain the relevant documents required to make the application.
  • Complete the Probate Application and the relevant HMRC forms.
  • Draft a legal oath for you to swear.
  • Make the application to the Probate Court on your behalf.
  • Obtain the Probate and securely send two copies to you.
  • Collect and distribute all assets in the estate.

How long will this take?

On average, estates that fall within this range are dealt with within 3-6 months. Typically, obtaining the Grant of Probate takes 8-10 weeks. Collecting assets then follows, which can take between 2-3 weeks. Once this has been done, we can distribute the assets, which normally takes 3-4 weeks.

Team members

Our specialist Wills & Probate solicitors are highly experienced in this area of law. The principal members of the team are:

Legal Experts Date Qualified
Philippa Barton 01.10.1987
Nicola Waldman 15.06.1989
James Berry 15.09.2017
Josephine Russen 15.09.2017

As well as our trained legal professionals, our Wills & Probate team also have Trainee Solicitors, Paralegals and Legal Assistants who assist with probate and estate administration.

Call our highly experienced Wills & Probate team on the number below
or request a call back.
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