Thursfields Wills & Estates Department has extensive experience in dealing with the administration of estates and is able to take away the legal burden following the death of a loved one.

We can provide a full end-to-end estates administration service, which includes obtaining the Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration if there isn’t a Will), on behalf of the executor.

Our legal fees for administering an estate are based on the hourly rates* of our lawyers undertaking the work and the time taken to fully administer the estate. Therefore, our legal fees for a simple, straightforward estate will be less than for a more complex estate, which takes more time to administer.

Some typical factors which will have an impact on the time taken, and therefore the cost, to administer an estate are as follows:

  • There may be a large number of beneficiaries and/or assets, leading to more work being required to administer the estate.
  • There may be delays in receiving responses to our correspondence to clients, beneficiaries or other third parties.
  • The frequency of communication required by our clients and the beneficiaries of the estate will have an impact on our fees, i.e. an estate with many beneficiaries requiring regular contact will lead to higher fees than an estate with one beneficiary requiring infrequent contact.
  • Inheritance Tax may be payable – this will increase the overall complexity of administering an estate.
  • HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) may question the value of the estate assets submitted – we may need to enter into correspondence with HMRC to agree and finalise the value of assets in the estate for Inheritance Tax purposes before we can complete the administration.
  • A Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) claim may be received – the DWP may query the payments of means-tested benefits received by the deceased during their lifetime. If this happens we may have to enter into correspondence with the DWP and settle any claim before the estate can be distributed.
  • There may be a dispute between the beneficiaries which needs to be resolved before the administration can be completed.

In addition to our legal fees some disbursements (payments made on behalf of the estate to third parties) will be payable in every estate, including the Probate Court fee, the Solicitor’s/Commissioner’s fee to swear the Oath and HM Land Registry bankruptcy searches (standard disbursements)**. In some estates, other disbursements may be payable, depending upon the circumstances, in addition to standard disbursements.***

Our legal fees include making full enquiries as to the extent and value of the assets in the estate, correspondence with our clients and the beneficiaries, drafting and submitting the Probate application (including forms IHT205 or IHT400), dealing with Inheritance Tax matters, Capital Gains Tax/Income Tax matters (where relevant this may involve instructing an accountant, whose fees will be in addition to our own), the collection and distribution of the estate assets and the preparation of final estate accounts.****

Every estate is different and we will only charge for the work that is relevant to properly administer the estate. However, to give an idea of what our charges will be, please see below for some typical examples of what we have charged our clients. Please note that in these examples we have changed names and some other details to protect confidentiality.

1. A simple estate with no Inheritance Tax to pay – we charged £1,550 + VAT and disbursements

The estate of the late Mrs W was administered by a Director in the Department. It took approximately 6 months to administer the estate. The basis of our charges was as follows:

  • The estate consisted of the deceased’s property and a few personal possessions.
  • No Inheritance Tax was payable as the estate was less than the Nil Rate Band.
  • There were no debts to pay and the property was sold immediately after the Grant of Probate was obtained.

In addition to our fees only standard disbursements were payable.

2. A simple estate with Inheritance Tax to pay – we charged £10,000 + VAT and disbursements

The estate of the late Mr D was administered by an experienced Associate in the Department. It took approximately 12 months to administer the estate. The basis of our charges was as follows:

  • The estate was valued at £350,000 which consisted of an interest in a property as well as a bank account, shareholding and a life insurance policy.
  • The deceased left a Will with the entire estate payable to a family trust.
  • The property was sold during the administration of the estate.
  • Inheritance Tax was payable as a result of lifetime gifts and trusts created during the deceased’s lifetime although we were able to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax by claiming the deceased’s late spouse’s unused Nil Rate Band.
  • There were delays in the overall time it took to administer the estate because the first agreed sale of the property fell through and a new sale had to be agreed.

In addition to our fees standard disbursements were payable as well as a stockbroker’s fee of £60.

3. A medium-complexity estate with no Inheritance Tax to pay – we charged £7,000 + VAT and disbursements

The estate of the late Mrs F was administered by an experienced Associate in the Department. It took approximately 12 months to administer the estate. The basis of our charges was as follows:

  • The estate was valued at £375,000which consisted of an interest in a property as well as multiple bank accounts, National Savings Produces and a motor car.
  • The deceased left a Will with a specific bequest of their personal possessions, a Nil-Rate Band Discretionary trust and the residue of the estate was left to the spouse.
  • We advised our client in relation to the Discretionary Trust and upon the instruction of the trustees prepared the legal paperwork to wind up the trust and transfer the assets to the surviving spouse.
  • No Inheritance Tax was payable.
  • There were delays in the overall time it took to administer the estate because of the time it took HM Revenue & Customs to correctly process the final Income Tax return.

In addition to our fees only standard disbursements were payable.

4. A medium-complexity estate with Inheritance Tax to pay – we charged £11,000 + VAT and disbursements

The estate of the late Miss O was administered by an experienced Associate in the Department. It took approximately 9 months to administer the estate. The basis of our charges was as follows:

  • The estate was valued at £550,000 which consisted of a property as well as multiple bank accounts, a National Savings product, a life insurance policy and a shareholding.
  • The deceased left a Will with three cash legacies and the residue of the estate payable to three beneficiaries.
  • The administration of the estate proceeded swiftly without any delays, despite the property needing to be sold on the open market and the estate being liable for Inheritance Tax.

In addition to our fees standard disbursements were payable as well as a stockbroker’s fee of £125.

5. A complex estate with no Inheritance Tax to pay – we have charged £9,000 + VAT and disbursements to date and anticipate our fees to closure will be £12,000 + VAT and disbursements

The estate of the late Mr S is being administered by an experienced Associate in the Department. The estate administration has currently being ongoing for nine months and we anticipate that it will take another three months to complete.  However, this is subject to no unexpected complications arising in dealing with the final outstanding matters in the estate. The basis of our charges are as follows:

  • The estate was valued at £500,000 which consisted of two properties, multiple bank accounts, National Savings products, a life insurance policy, a shareholding and a property in Spain.
  • The deceased left a Will with six cash legacies and the residue of the estate payable to two beneficiaries.
  • No Inheritance Tax was payable as we were able to successfully claim the Residence Nil Rate Band on behalf of the estate, as well as the unused allowances of the deceased’s late spouse, saving the estate over £50,000 in tax.
  • We liaised with contacts in Spain to deal with the Spanish property and make sure that all Spanish tax was paid.

In addition to our fees standard disbursements were payable as well as the fees of lawyer in Spain.

6. A complex estate with Inheritance Tax to pay – we charged £28,000 + VAT and disbursements

The estate of the late Mr L was administered by a Director in the Department. It took approximately 18 months to administer the estate. The basis of our charges was as follows:

  • The estate was valued at well over the Inheritance Tax Nil Rate Band which included a business (which could not continue without the deceased), multiple bank accounts, stocks, bonds and a life policy, as well as some more unusual assets.
  • Due to the complex nature of the assets, and the fact that Inheritance Tax and a number of debts needed to be settled, the estate took well over a year to administer.

In addition to our fees standard disbursements were payable.

 

Grant Only Service

We are also able to obtain a Grant of Representation (Grant of Probate if there is a Will and we act for the Executor or Grant of Letters of Administration if there isn’t a Will and we act for the Administrator) on behalf of our client if only this document is needed and our client does not wish for us to administer the estate itself.

The fee payable will depend on the work required to obtain the Grant and this will vary depending upon what legal documents need to be completed, whether Inheritance Tax is payable or not and the precise circumstances and requirements for each particular matter.

In addition, standard disbursements will be payable, being the Probate Court fee and the fee to swear the Oath.

The time taken from when we are instructed to when the Grant is issued by the Probate Registry will vary according to the individual circumstances of the matter but may typically range from three weeks to six months. This is also subject to possible delays arising from matters outside our control, such as waiting for required information, or the time taken by the Probate Registry to issue the Grant following submission of our application.

  • Obtaining a Grant of Representation – simple Inheritance Tax return required (IHT205) with no Inheritance Tax payable: £850 to £1,500 + VAT and disbursements
  • Obtaining a Grant of Representation – full Inheritance Tax return required (IHT400) with no Inheritance Tax payable: £1,500 to £2,000 VAT and disbursements
  • Obtaining a Grant of Representation – full Inheritance Tax return required (IHT400) with Inheritance Tax payable: £2,500 to £3,500 + VAT and disbursements
  • If there are additional complications, such as but not limited to, domicile issues, or the completion of additional supplementary documents, such as for claims for certain Inheritance Tax reliefs, then we will undertake this extra work on an hourly-rate basis and these additional fees will be in addition to the fees quoted above.

 *Our hourly rates are £195 + VAT per hour for a trainee Solicitor/Legal Executive, £200 + VAT per hour for a Solicitor/Legal Executive, £215 + VAT per hour for an Associate and £225 plus VAT per hour for a Senior Associate/Director. Please see our individual lawyer profile pages for details of the qualifications and experience of our team.

**Probate fees are £155 plus £0.5 for each sealed copy. Correct as at December 2018 and subject to change. Where there is no Will the Solicitor’s/Commissioner’s fee is £5 per administrator and where there is a Will (and no Codicils) it is £7 per executor. Each additional exhibit (such as a Codicil) is £1 per executor. The requirement to swear an Oath for Probate is subject to change. HM Land Registry bankruptcy searches are £2 + VAT each and to obtain a copy of the registered title to a property (each registered title) is £3 + VAT.

***Other disbursements may be payable dependent upon the needs of the estate. These may include instructing asset valuations, asset/Will searches, fees place Trustee/Statutory notices, Oath settling fees, estate agent, stockbroker, accountant, genealogist and financial advisor fees, the fees to obtain a legal opinion from a barrister or external lawyer’s fees to deal with assets overseas.

****Please note that our fees to administer the estate do not include the cost of additional legal services which may be required in connection with the estate. These include conveyancing work for the sale or transfer of a property, the administration of any trusts resulting from the estate/terms of the Will, the preparation of Deeds of Variation, dealing with any claims against the estate, reviewing retrospective Care Funding matters concerning the deceased or the provision of specialist business advice from our Corporate and Commercial Teams.   Such fees are in addition to our legal fees for administering the estate and further information is available upon request.

 

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