Probate is the term commonly used to describe the process involved in administering the estate of someone who has died. The responsibility for this rests with the ‘personal representative’, who is the person appointed in the Will, usually an ‘executor’. Alternatively, where there is no Will, or if a Will appoints executors who cannot act, the responsibility falls to an ‘administrator’ – a person entitled in law to administer an estate – usually the next of kin.
If you are a personal representative, dealing with the administration of an estate can be a daunting prospect – complex and time-consuming. At Carpenter & Co, we understand how difficult it can be to try to deal with the complexities of estate administration whilst you are grieving and we can reduce the burden upon you by dealing with this on your behalf.
The administration process
The personal representative is responsible for valuing an estate and, paying debts, liabilities and taxes and, finally, distributing assets to beneficiaries.
At Carpenter & Co, our solicitors will take control of the estate administration for you. We will:
- Deal with banks and other asset providers on your behalf when valuing the estate,
- Prepare documentation required to pay tax and apply for a Grant of Representation,
- Ensure liabilities have been paid,
- Prepare full estate accounts for you,
- And distribute assets in accordance with a Will or the rules of intestacy.
Our aim is to relieve the burden upon the personal representative after a bereavement and reduce the stresses estate administration can place upon them.
Grant of Representation
After valuing the estate, an application must be made to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate where there is a valid Will, or a Grant of Letters Administration where there is no Will, or a Will, but no executors appointed (collectively, these Grants are known as ‘Grants of Representation’). Unless the estate is a very small one, only once a Grant of Representation has been obtained can assets be transferred, sold or collected in.
Finalising the administration
We will ensure that all loose ends have been tied up and matters finalised for you. We will pay all liabilities in the estate and ensure the personal representatives are protected from any personal liability. We will deal with HMRC on your behalf and settle tax matters. Full estate accounts will be prepared, detailing all financial affairs of the estate and we will distribute assets to the beneficiaries named in the Will, or those inheriting in intestacy.
When someone dies without leaving a Will, or where a Will does not dispose of all their assets, the people entitled to benefit from that person’s estate are set out in law. Sometimes these may be distant relatives who require tracing. Our solicitors are experienced in dealing with intestacy and will use the services of genealogists to trace the entitled beneficiaries. This ensures that personal representatives are protected from any personal liability, for example, where beneficiaries are missing or unknown.
Prices for the services we provide
Our Non-Contested Probate Fees
The fees stated below are for the period commencing 6th Dec 2018. It is our policy to review our fees annually.
Applying for the grant, collecting and distributing the assets
In most cases where there are no complications, we anticipate this will take between 10 and 20 hours work charged at an hourly rate. Please note, hourly rates can vary dependant on the fee earner and their experience ranging from £190 per hour for a paralegal, and £250 per hour for a qualified solicitor with over 8 years’ experience. Our fees are based according to the time spent and calculated in units of 10 units per hour for letters and emails written, telephone calls, personal attendance, preparation of documents etc. Our total cost for the administration of a straightforward estate is estimated at £2,500 – £5,000 plus 20% VAT (based on a qualified solicitor with over 8 years’ experience) and can be broken down as follows:
- First Stage – Collating all relevant information and applying for the Grant of Probate: 5 to 10 hours of work, with a total cost between £1,250 – £2,500 plus 20% VAT.
- Second Stage – Realising the assets, paying liabilities and distributing to the beneficiaries
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 several bank accounts, costs will be at the higher end.
Where the partners of the firm are the executors we reserve the right to make an additional charge to reflect the additional responsibility involved. This will be based on the value of the estate at 0.5% of the value of real property and 1% of the value of other assets.
We will handle the full process for you, including the following:
- Provide you with a dedicated and experienced probate fee earner to work on your matter
- Identify the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries
- Accurately identify the type of Probate application you will require
- 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 or the appropriate Statement of Truth
- Make the application to the Probate Court on your behalf
- Obtain the Grant of Probate
- Collect and distribute all assets in the estate
- Take care of any tax affairs arising during the course of administration
- Produce Estate Accounts detailing the date of death value of the estate, any monies paid in or out during the administration period and the distributions made to beneficiaries.
This estimate is for estates where:
- There is a valid will
- There is no more than one property
- There are no more than 3 bank or building society accounts
- There are no other intangible assets
- There are 1 to 4 beneficiaries
- There are no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets. If disputes arise this is likely to lead to an increase in costs
- There is no inheritance tax payable and the executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC
- There are no claims made against the estate
There will be disbursements in addition to our fee. Disbursements are expenses 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 but do expect to be put in funds prior to incurring the expenditure. We usually anticipate the following disbursements:
- Probate application fee – currently £155 but this is expected to increase significantly;
- Official copies of the Grant of Probate – £0.50 per copy, and we recommend obtaining at least 4 copies depending on the number of assets in the estate;
- Swearing of the Executor’s oath – £7.00 per Executor;
- Bankruptcy searches – Land Charges Department only – £2.00 per beneficiary. If it is appropriate to make bankruptcy searches against beneficiaries overseas then additional charges will arise;
- Statutory Notices – £250-£300. These are advertisements published in the London Gazette and a local paper giving notice of the personal representatives’ intention to distribute, which protects against unexpected claims;
- Fees paid to companies/stockbrokers on realisation of shares during the course of the administration.
How long will this take?
On average, the administration of an Estate that falls within this range are dealt with within 6 to 10 months but there may be circumstances where it is prudent to delay the final distribution (e.g. potential Inheritance Act claims). Typically, we aim to complete the Probate application and the relevant HMRC forms with 3 to 4 months. Once the application has been submitted obtaining the Grant of Probate from the Registry takes 3 to 4 weeks. Once the Grant is received, we will realise the assets, pay any liabilities and distribute the remaining funds which normally takes between 3 to 6 months.
Please contact our probate team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 8669 5145 for further information.
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