DEALING WITH A LOVED ONE’S ESTATE –
How much will it cost and how long will it take?
We will work with you if you have the responsibility of administering an estate. We take care at the outset to agree with you which jobs you wish to carry out and what our responsibilities will be. Based on that discussion and the amount of work that we will be responsible for, we will estimate our fees for your particular case, before we start work.
However, it is important for us to let you know in advance what we charge and to give you an idea of what the fees may be in your case. So we’ve set out helpful information below.
What do Slade Legal charge?
We charge for the time our lawyers spend advising you, helping you, attending to necessary documents, and dealing with money and assets in the estate.
We charge for that time at an hourly rate. It’s £300 plus VAT (£360 including VAT) for the two directors on our team and £275 plus VAT (that’s £330 including VAT) for our other lawyers.
What do Slade Legal’s fees usually work out at?
We normally expect a reasonably straightforward estate – containing, say, a property and savings – to take our lawyers ten to twenty hours of work. That works out at around £3,500 - £7,000 including VAT.
What is covered by Slade Legal’s fees?
You will be assigned your own experienced probate solicitor (out of our Private Client team of six lawyers across our three offices) who will be responsible for your case.
Our services include:
- advising you on what your duties are and how and when to carry them out, and about things to watch out for (like insurance, or income tax or other liabilities).
- corresponding with institutions like banks, pension administrators, investment companies: we’ll be getting necessary information and then doing what the institution requires in order to release money or assets.
- preparing a return to show what is in the estate and whether Inheritance Tax has to be paid – and, if so, how much.
- preparing the documents to apply for a Grant of Probate (the Grant confirms to other people that you are authorised to deal with the person’s assets) and obtaining the Grant for you.
- collecting estate money on your behalf and paying debts and bills.
- arranging for payments and/or asset transfers to the beneficiaries.
- preparing clear statements (Estate Accounts) which set out what was in the estate and how much the beneficiaries are to receive.
There can be a lot to do and we’re here to help with as much of it as you want us to do.
Are the fees ever less?
We’re happy to help with simple estates, such as where there are some accounts to deal with and perhaps just one beneficiary. The cost for these can be around £1,200 - £3,500 including VAT, based on four to ten hours of work.
Are the fees sometimes more?
Our fees can be more than the ones we mentioned earlier (which were for straightforward cases):
- if there is Inheritance Tax to pay, we have to arrange for it to be paid, and then we need to correspond with the Inheritance Tax office before we get clearance from them.
- if there isn’t a Will: this leaves uncertainties and is more time-consuming.
- if there are two or more properties to deal with.
- if there are difficulties in selling an asset in the estate.
- if we have to handle income coming into the estate, such as rent or dividends.
- if the person left many different accounts or assets.
- if there was a trust relating to the person, or we have to set up a trust under the person’s Will.
- if there are many beneficiaries or if there are any disagreements to resolve with the beneficiaries.
- if there is a risk of the Will being contested.
Dealing with issues like these means your lawyer will probably need over twenty hours to complete the work. We’ll give you the fee estimate once we know what’s involved in your loved one’s estate. If it may take 30 hours, that would be around £10,000 including VAT; if it could take 40 hours, that would be around £13,000 – 14,500 including VAT. Higher fees like that tend to be associated with a higher-value estate.
How are the fees paid?
If there is money in the estate, the fees will be paid out of this once the money has been released.
What is not covered by Slade Legal’s fees for the estate
Our lawyers can help you at each stage and with every aspect of administering the estate. However,
- if an asset is hard to value, we would need to use an expert such as a surveyor, who would charge a separate fee.
- if an income tax return is needed from the deceased person or their estate, we would use an accountant to prepare this and the accountant would charge a separate fee.
- if a property or land has to be sold, our conveyancing team would carry out the work on the sale and charge a separate fee.
- if a property or land was not previously registered at HM Land Registry, Slade Legal will charge a separate fee for registering it now.
Will there be anything else to pay?
On behalf of the estate, we may well also have to make the following payments to third parties:
- Grant application fees payable to the Probate Registry: currently £155, plus 50p for each official copy, one being needed for each asset in the estate. (But these fees are due to be increased in April 2019 for estates over £50,000, under recent Government proposals.)
- HM Land Registry fees – if there is a property in the estate to transfer or register: amount depends on the value of the property
- bankruptcy checks against beneficiaries: £2 for each.
- fees for “statutory notices”, to protect you as Executor against personal liability to any unexpected creditors: up to £200.
- bank transfer administration fees for payments to beneficiaries: £36 including VAT, or £48 including VAT for guaranteed same-day payment –but there is no fee for payment by cheque
How long will it take?
We will help you through the stages, and we will estimate the timescale for your case at the outset, but overall administering an estate may take around six to twelve months. Breaking this down:
- if we can, we will try to get the Grant of Probate for you within two months or so of meeting you. However, compiling the necessary information often takes longer. If there is Inheritance Tax to deal with, this stage of the process is likely to take 3-5 months.
- After the Grant of Probate, closing accounts and selling investments may take a month or so (but, if, say, share certificates are missing then it takes longer to sell the shares).
- Of course, the time it takes to sell a property varies greatly. Once the sale has been completed, we have to wait for the final bills for the property.
- If we have had to file an Inheritance Tax return, it will then take at least three months to receive clearance from the Inheritance Tax office. If they need further information (e.g. about the value of a property, or about gifts by the person in his or her lifetime), the process may take a lot longer. You will need Inheritance Tax clearance before you can finally distribute the estate.
- If there is any risk of the Will being contested, you may have to wait ten months from the Grant of Probate before distributing the estate (and any disagreement with the beneficiaries, or difficulty in contacting them, can also cause delay).
What are the qualifications and experience of Slade Legal’s lawyers?
All the lawyers in our Private Client team are experienced in advising you and guiding you through the whole process of administering an estate. For details on them, please see the “Private Client Team”.