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Charles Russell Speechlys

Private Wealth - Administration of Estates

As an SRA authorised firm we are now required to publish price information in relation to certain typical services described in this page. While we are able to provide indicative figures these do not reflect the complexity or nuances of an individual case and the bespoke service that we provide.

Please always contact us to discuss fees in relation to particular work.

Probate indicative pricing

The total cost of the service or, where not practicable, the average cost or range of costs

 

Probate work can be very simple or very complex, depending on the assets owned by the deceased, the terms of any will, the family circumstances, etc.  In our experience, no two probates are the same and there is no such thing as a “standard” or “average” probate.  Our fees can range from as little as £2,500 to over £150,000.

The basis for charges, including any hourly rates or fixed fees

 

We like to be as clear as possible about our charges and to give you the choice of paying for our services on the basis of either a fixed fee (in cases where we have sufficient information to do this) or hourly rates, and can sometimes agree a capped fee.  When we have enough information, we will give an estimate or agree a fixed fee with you. If there are subsequent complications which mean we have to vary an estimate or fixed fee we will inform you straightaway.  Our hourly rates depend on the experience of the members of staff involved, but vary between £160 and £675 (plus VAT).

The experience and qualifications of anyone carrying out the work, and of their supervisors

 

We have a large team dedicated to probate work and we resource matters efficiently, making use of Paralegal, Legal Executive, Trainee Solicitor, Associate, Senior Associate and Legal Director support where appropriate.  Experience will vary, with our most junior staff having no prior probate experience and our senior probate solicitors having more than 25 years’ experience.  All work is supervised by either a senior solicitor or a partner.   

A description of, and the cost of, any likely disbursements, and where the actual cost of a disbursement is not known, the average cost or range of costs

 

Probate fees are £155 if the application is made by us and the estate is worth more than £5,000.  There are proposals to increase the fees and the threshold.

If any inheritance tax is due, then this has to be paid before an application for probate is made but this is not a disbursement that we make on your behalf.

If other professionals are involved, for example, to value stocks and shares or real estate, then their fees will vary depending on what the asset is and where it is located.

 

Whether any fees or disbursements attract VAT and if so the amount of VAT they attract

 

Our fees and disbursements attract VAT at the prevailing rate if our client is an EU resident.

Details of what services are included in the price displayed, including the key stages of the matter and likely timescales for each stage, and details of any services that might reasonably be expected to be included in the price displayed but are not

Our fee estimates include all work anticipated from the start of the probate process until either the grant of probate or the transfer of assets to those entitled, and we make it clear which basis applies.  Where possible at the outset, we give estimates for all additional advice that may be required (such as taxation, property and other advice, for example in cases of disputes).

Any conditional fee or damages-based agreements, the circumstances in which clients may have to make any payments themselves for your services (including from any damages)

 

Not applicable.

Probate indicative timescales

There are essentially two stages to finalising a deceased person’s financial affairs – the application for probate and then the administration of the estate.

The time it takes to apply for a grant of probate (or letters of administration, if there is no will) usually depends on how long it takes to find out the status of any will made by the deceased, as well as extent of the assets and liabilities of the deceased person.  In order to make the application, in addition to the value of assets and liabilities on the date the deceased died, we will usually need to consider the terms of the will, any domicile issues which may arise, the income tax position and whether there were any lifetime gifts which will be taken into account for the purposes of inheritance tax.  This usually involves meetings and correspondence with the personal representatives, family and heirs, as well as correspondence with banks, insurers, the deceased’s accountant, pension provider and others who need to be notified (for example, an underwriting syndicate or trustees).  We may need to liaise with valuers and others in the case of more complex assets, for example, non-UK property or unlisted company shares or partnership interests.

After we have obtained all the relevant information, we calculate any inheritance tax due and prepare two sets of documents.  First, the inheritance tax account, which has to be submitted to HMRC, together with the tax due, before the application for probate can be made.  HMRC can take up to 8-10 weeks to issue the form confirming that inheritance tax has been paid, which is one of the documents which must be submitted with the application for probate. Once this has been done, the second set of documents which we prepare can be submitted to the Probate Registry.

How long it takes to submit the application depends on the complexity of the deceased’s affairs and the responsiveness of the other parties involved, but typically is unlikely to take less than 4 months or more than 18 months.

Typically, the Probate Registry then take a few weeks to process the application, depending on their caseload. However, at present, this can take up to three months or so.

The second stage – the administration of the estate – involves paying any labilities and any legacies, and selling any assets which need to be sold in order to pay these, dealing with any queries from HMRC, liaising with the deceased’s accountants regarding income tax returns to the date of death and during administration, advertising for creditors and preparing final estate accounts before distributing the final residuary estate. 

This stage can be relatively quick – typically around 8-12 weeks, depending on circumstances, but with property or more complex assets, or where there is a dispute (either between heirs or claimants or with HMRC over valuations and/or the amount of tax due), it can be longer.

After administration of the estate has been completed, any trusts set up in the will can be established and will be administered according to their terms.

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