Estate administration and Probate Fees
The Berwins' approach
Clients instructing Berwins will receive the following:
• A dedicated solicitor (STEP qualified or currently studying STEP- Our full team in the Life department can be seen here, the team is ranked by the legal directories Legal 500 and Chambers UK. Regardless of who is assigned to your case, they will be supervised by Gareth Marland TEP, Director of Berwins and team leader of the Life team
• A named dedicated probate assistant, these will handle day to day matters not requiring the expertise of the solicitor
• Regular updates on the progress of the estate administration. These will be agreed from time to time with you, whilst we like to keep in regular contact some clients prefer to only hear when there’s an update – for example, when HMRC have closed their file
• Tax advice during the course of the administration process (if that option is chosen) to identify opportunities to mitigate Capital Gains Tax and maximise IHT refunds
• Links to support agencies, for example house clearance, estate agents, financial advisors, accountants (these are based purely on feedback/expertise, we have no financial interest to refer work)
• Initial advice towards the end of the administration period on the possibility of making a deed of variation to the estate to vary the terms of the Will (Deeds of variation)
Probate - How long will it take and how much will it cost?
The cost of administering an estate, often referred to as Probate, depends greatly on the complexity of the estate and the extent to which you wish Berwins to assist you in the process. We have a range of services available and a range of pricing options to choose from. To assist you in understanding the options available the probate process can be described as follows:
Options for Berwins to assist:
For all Options additional costs (sometimes called disbursements) will also apply – these are detailed below.
Option 1: Obtaining the Grant of Probate only for the executors
You will provide the valuations and information required in order for us to complete the application forms to obtain the Grant of Probate. We will provide a template for the information we require from you.
In the majority of cases we charge a fixed fee for this service which depends on the complexity of the estate.
Our fees start from £1,050 plus VAT (£1,260) for an estate which will not pay inheritance tax (IHT) and will not require tax allowances to be transferred from another estate (often referred to as a transferable nil rate band application). The normal range of fees for such work range from £1,050 plus VAT (£1,260) to £3,000 (£3,600) plus VAT.
If the estate will pay IHT our fees start from £3,000 plus VAT (£3,600) but in order to provide a fixed fee or estimate of our fees we will require information about the estate so that we may understand the work required. The normal range of fees for such work range from £3,000 plus VAT (£3,600)to £5,000 plus VAT (£6,000) but can exceed this, for example if cases involve complex assets or gifts were made by the deceased which require in depth reporting to HMRC.
Where we are instructed to obtain the Grant of Probate only, our involvement ends once the Grant is obtained. From thereon it will be the responsibility of the executors to fully administer the estate.
Option 2: Full estate administration
Where possible we will provide the option for this to be carried out on a fixed fee basis. Examples where a fixed fee may not be possible include:
1. Highly complex assets, for example complex business assets for which the extent of our involvement cannot be gauged at the outset
2. Overseas assets
3. Complex tax considerations or likelihood of HMRC investigations
4. Likelihood of a challenge to the Will or someone challenging the distribution of the estate
We may still be able to provide a fixed fee by excluding such elements from the fixed fee and charging those at our hourly rates.
Fixed fees for the administration of an estate start from £3,500 plus VAT (£4,200), this would be for an estate that does not have a liability to IHT, has a valid and simple Will, no more than 5 assets and only one or two beneficiaries. By contrast, an estate with the following features:
• a value of £800,000 and a liability to IHT
• gifts made by the deceased in the previous 7 years of £50,000
• 6 beneficiaries (one of whom is overseas)
• a claim to transfer the IHT allowances of the deceased's spouse or civil partner
would be likely to be in the region of £12,000 to £14,000 plus VAT (£14,400 to £16,800).
If our work is carried out on an hourly rate basis we may also charge an amount calculated by reference to the value of the gross estate. Such charges would of course be agreed at the outset and range from 0.5% to 2%. This value element of our fees reflects the risk taken on by the firm in handling the estate’s assets.
A full list of our hourly rates for all grades of staff at Berwins can be found here.
Additional Costs – also known as ‘Disbursements’
The below are common additional costs payable during the administration period. Please note the list is not definitive and your solicitor will advise on additional costs that may arise.
• Probate Fee: £155, additional copies of the Grant of Probate £1.50
• Will searches: £90 to £95 plus VAT (£108 to £114)
searches: £2 per beneficiary; significantly more if foreign beneficiaries
• Statutory advertisements (protects the beneficiaries against unexpected claims from unknown creditors): £200 plus VAT (£240) (approximately – this can vary depending on where the deceased resided)
• Unclaimed assets search: £121.50 plus VAT (£145.80) (this search can find dormant accounts / investments that form part of the estate and can help avoid penalties for failing to search for assets owned by the deceased)
• Surveyors fees (valuation of property and personal possessions/house contents): £150 - £350 plus VAT (£180 - £420) each for property / contents. This could be more if significant amount of possessions/ higher value / unusual in nature (e.g. rare book collections, rare gemstones)
• Accountants fees: vary depending on requirements. Can be necessary if Capital Gains are made/gross income received during the administration period or the deceased was not up to date with their tax affairs
Assumptions and exclusions when we provide a quote
When our clients receive a quote from us it will clearly state what advice we are providing and the assumptions and exclusions which have been made in the quote, these commonly include the following assumptions:
• With prompt family assistance, we are able to speedily and correctly identify all assets and liabilities of the estate, including lifetime gifts that are failed Potentially Exempt Transfers
• There are no technical or other impediments to a grant of probate by the Probate Court
• There are no claims or investigations entered into against the estate by relatives, HM Revenue and Customs, the DWP, creditors or others.
• That there are no material disagreements amongst the beneficiaries and/or the trustees
and these typical exclusions:
• The fees associated with the Sale or Transfer of Property/Land in the estate (although we can offer all inclusive quotes to include this work)
• Establishing Will Trusts or making changes to a Will Trust
• Winding up a Will Trust or making transfers of assets from a Will Trust
• Deeds of Variation/Redirection of Inheritances/Disclaimers of Inheritances
• Capital Gains Tax Advice and Mitigation (unless that option is chosen)
• Business or Farming Advice (if applicable)
• Recovery of compensation due under the PPI compensation scheme (please advise if you wish us to look into this)
The above is not an exhaustive list and each quote will be tailored to each case. Whilst we can normally advise on all of the above issues that advice would be outside of the original agreed fixed fee and we would provide a quote for this additional work.
This is intended as a guide only to the fees relating to the administration of estates. We always urge clients to call us so we can discuss your situation in detail to fully understand your needs before we quote– we do not offer an online quote system for this reason.
Call us on 01423 543102 to receive your personal quote.