The exact cost for dealing with applying for the grant of probate and collecting and distributing the assets of an estate 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 as the case can be handled by a junior lawyer. If there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, the matter will be more complex requiring an experienced lawyer and the costs will be higher.
In addition to the legal costs there are disbursements (which are costs relating on the 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 these are ultimately paid from the estate and are not included in our quote.
As an illustration of the likely costs to be incurred, where there is a simple estate we anticipate that this will involve between 10 and 25 hours’ work for a junior lawyer at the rate of £255.00 to £265.00 per hour plus VAT. The costs estimated are therefore in the region of £2,500 to £ 6,500 (plus VAT £500-£1,300).
This is for the estates where:
- there is a valid will
- there is no more than one property (Conveyancing fees are charged separately)
- there is no more than 2 bank or building society accounts
- there are 2-3 beneficiaries
- there are no disputes between beneficiaries on the 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
*Disbursements typically required are:
- probate application fee of £273 (plus £1.50 for each additional copy of the Grant required)
- bankruptcy only land charges department search (£2 per beneficiary)
- notice posted in the London Gazette and a local newspaper (this cost varies but is approximately £300 and protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors)
Administration of simple estates would ordinarily be undertaken by a more junior lawyer under the supervision of a partner or senior member of the team. Where the issues involved are more complicated, the application for probate and administration of the estate will be dealt with by a senior lawyer whose hourly rate is between £275 and £295 plus VAT.
There is always potential for costs to increase, particularly where (for example):
- there is no will
- the estate includes: shareholdings (stocks and bonds), foreign assets or trusts
- there are disputes or disagreements between personal representatives and/or beneficiaries
- the whereabouts of beneficiaries are unknown; etc
In complex estates, costs could range significantly depending on the estate and how it is to be dealt with. We can give you a more accurate quote once we have more information.
On average, estates falling within the basic range are dealt with within 4 to 9 months. Typically, obtaining the grant of probate will take 6 to 12 weeks although this is dependent upon the turnaround time of the Probate Registry which can vary depending on their workload. Collecting assets then follows, which can take a further 4 to 6 weeks. Once this has been completed we can distribute the assets, which normally takes 2 to 4 weeks.
If a property is to be sold, the time limits will increase and are dependent on how quickly a buyer can be found and the property sold.
We would always encourage clients to make contact with us at an early stage following a bereavement; we have an extremely sympathetic and dedicated team and we are happy to meet with you and provide a free, no obligation quote. Any quote will be provided to you in writing and give you a chance to consider this before deciding whether or not to instruct us.
For those who would like a more economical service, and who have the confidence to deal with the post-Grant administration themselves, we are happy to provide quotes just to complete the Inheritance Tax return and to obtain the Grant of Representation (Probate or Administration).
For a tailored guide as to the likely costs to be incurred on a particular application for probate and estate administration please contact one of the probate team on 01329 822333.