Pricing information – Estate Administration

We understand that transparency and certainty about legal costs is just as important as providing pragmatic, succinct and prompt advice.

We pride ourselves on being open and transparent on costs from the outset and we offer a wide range of fee models, including fixed fees, fee ranges or agreeing a cap on our fees. In any matter, once we have met with you and the extent of our instruction is clear, we will provide you with a clear fee estimate documented in a terms of engagement letter that will be sent to you for your approval and signing. Only once you have confirmed approval to our terms of engagement letter will we commence work on your behalf.

In addition, we are required by Solicitors Regulation Authority Transparency Rules to publish general information on the cost of assisting clients with the administration of an estate. We have provided this generic information below for ease of reference, but will always provide you with a bespoke cost estimate after we have met with you to discuss the estate.

Our team

In general, our fee estimates for dealing with the estate administration will be based on the extent of the work involved by fee earners working in our Wills, Trusts & Estates department. Our fees will therefore be based on the hourly rates of fee earners within the team, which are as follows:-

Partner:  £290 plus VAT

Senior Associate or Associate :  £200 – £210 plus VAT

Solicitor:  £175 – £190 plus VAT

Trainee and paralegal:  £90 – £120 plus VAT

Factors that will determine our fees for dealing with an estate administration for you:

Our fees for advising you in relation to an estate administration will depend on the individual circumstances of the estate, because the amount of work required in dealing with an estate varies from matter to matter. For example, some of the factors which can affect the complexity of an estate administration are as follows:

  • Has the deceased left a Will? If not, an intestacy can cause extra difficulty.
  • The complexity of the Will (i.e. are there any trusts arising under the Will).
  • The complexity of the estate assets/liabilities (e.g. business assets, foreign assets etc).
  • Whether the personal representatives (PRs) are dealing with some matters themselves such as the collection of asset information, dealing with utility providers, meeting property/chattel valuers, property clearance etc.
  • Inheritance Tax (i.e. if Inheritance Tax is payable then the administration will be more complex).
  • HMRC – the approach taken by HMRC to any Inheritance Tax or Income Tax reporting.
  • Number of beneficiaries.
  • Dispute – i.e. if there is any dispute or claim against the estate.
  • Income Tax matters – i.e. if we are instructed to finalise income tax matters.

Our fees will also depend on how much of the work you wish to carry out yourself (if any), and how much you would like us to deal with on your behalf.

We have set out below some examples of different fee structures in relation to our assistance with estate administration, but, as mentioned above, the exact cost in dealing with an estate administration will depend on the individual circumstances/complexity of the matter.

Example 1:

No Inheritance Tax to pay, with a simple Will all passing to spouse or children. No property owned with estate assets comprising of a small number of bank accounts.

We estimate that our fees for administering this estate would be between £2,500 – £5,000 plus VAT.

This will include the following work:

  • Meeting with the executor(s) at an initial meeting to advise them on the terms of the Will, estate administration and obligations of the executors, probate procedure, valuation of estate assets, tax position or work required on Inheritance Tax and Income Tax matters and the distribution of the estate.
  • Writing to financial institutions to obtain the necessary asset/liability information for probate purposes.
  • Drafting the probate application and advising the executor(s) on the terms of the probate application and arranging for them to swear the executor’s Oath.
  • Dealing with the submission of the probate application to the Probate Registry (and HMRC if required).
  • After obtaining the Grant of Probate, arranging the closure of the deceased’s bank accounts.
  • Drafting estate accounts and sending these to your approval prior to final distribution.
  • Subsequently completing the distribution of the estate to the beneficiaries.

This does not include legal fees for conveyancing and obviously excludes any tax payable to HMRC, other estate liabilities and disbursements (see below).

Example 2:

Taxable estate (i.e. IHT to pay) with the estate passing to various beneficiaries. The estate comprises of bank accounts, investment portfolio and a property.

We estimate that our fees for administering this estate would be between £5,000 – £15,000 plus VAT (with the fees falling at the lower end if simple, or the higher end if more complex).

This will include the following work:

  • All work as per example 1 and, in addition,
  • Liaising with valuers to arrange for both property and chattel probate valuations to be obtained.
  • Arranging payment of Inheritance Tax direct from the deceased’s bank accounts.
  • After obtaining the Grant of Probate, arranging the closure of the deceased’s bank accounts and sale of the investment portfolio.
  • Advising the executors regarding the property marketing and if required arranging the marketing.
  • Advising the executors on the IHT and CGT consequences of a sale of estate assets.
  • Once all assets have been administered, advising the executors regarding the distribution of the estate.
  • Writing to HMRC to finalise the income tax reporting for the final lifetime tax period and the estate administration period or alternatively instructing accountants to file tax returns in respect of such periods if required.
  • Drafting estate accounts and sending these to your approval prior to final distribution.
  • Subsequently completing the distribution of the estate to the beneficiaries.

This does not include legal fees for conveyancing and obviously excludes any tax payable to HMRC, other estate liabilities and disbursements (see below).

Example of fixed fee for our instruction to solely apply for a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration

Alternatively, we can often act under a fixed fee arrangement for the preparation and submission of the probate application to allow you to deal with the remainder of the estate administration yourself. Any further work required from us on the estate administration will then be charged on a time basis at the hourly rates specified.

In these cases, our fees for obtaining the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration are generally between £1,500 – £3,000 plus VAT, but this will again depend on the complexity of the estate and the level of assistance you require for us. This fee estimate will include the following:

  • Reviewing estate asset and liability information provided by the personal representatives.
  • Drafting the probate application (including Oath for executors and Inheritance Tax Account)
  • Submitting the probate application to HMRC and the Probate Registry respectively and sending the Grant of Representation to you once received.

This will not include:

  • Any estate administration advice and tax advice provided after the Grant of Representation has been issued.
  • Writing off to financial institutions to obtain estate asset/liability financial information.
  • Instructing valuers to value the property.

If further advice and/or estate administration work is subsequently requested by the executors or administrators after the Grant of Representation has been issued, any such further work required from us on the estate administration will then be charged on a time basis at the hourly rates specified.  The extent of such fees will depend on factors such as HMRC’s response to the Inheritance Tax Account and also on how matters relating to the collating and collecting in of the other assets progress.  Therefore, for all additional work required on the estate (apart from the probate application) we propose to charge on the basis of the time involved at the hourly rate of the fee earners involved.

Disbursements

Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as Probate Registry fees. If instructed to assist with the entire estate administration, you will be expected to pay any out of pocket expenses incurred by us in carrying out the work plus VAT on certain expenses.  Those expenses may include Probate Registry fees of £155 plus £1.50 for every sealed copy of the Grant of Representation that you require, swear fees and may also include Land Registry search fees, travel costs and other disbursements.  In addition we will charge you for photocopying, printing and an administration fee for any bank telegraphic transfers. In some cases we will be able to pay disbursements and then be reimbursed from the estate in due course, but will agree this with you when instructed. Inheritance Tax or other liabilities such as funeral fees will have to be paid from the estate and would obviously be in addition to our fees.

Timescales

Once instructed, we will endeavour to provide you with details of the likely timescales at the outset. In particular, we will advise you as to the approximate timeframes for the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration being issued. However, whilst we will provide you with estimated timescales where possible, the timeframes for the entire estate administration will depend on various elements which are partly outside our control such as the sale of any estate property, as well as the timeframes for HMRC to issue the necessary tax clearances for the estate.  We will keep you informed of progress on a regular basis and discuss with you the likely timetable and target dates when appropriate during the course of the matter.

Next steps

The above information is naturally generic in nature. Please do get in touch with us directly so we can discuss our possible assistance with your new estate matter at which stage we will be able to provide you with a more detailed fee estimate once we are clear as to the extent of advice you require.