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Charging for our Services: Wills Trusts and Probate

Our aim is to be as transparent as possible about the way in which we charge for our services.  With this in mind

We aim to provide you with the best advice of the likely costs at the outset

For most areas of work, we will agree a fixed price; see for example where we are simply extracting a Grant on your behalf and not taking all of the worry and stress from you and dealing with the entire estate for you

Where that is not possible, we will provide you with an estimate of the likely cost and aim to work within an agreed budget where possible

We will keep you regularly updated of any relevant developments as we go along

You can contact Erica Pearce-Howard and Sue Tipper to discuss further on 01293 596925 & 01293 596908.

“Probate” is the term commonly used when talking about applying for the right to deal with a deceased person’s estate. The administration of an estate is usually dealt with by the executors named in a Will.  The document issued by the Probate Registry is called a Grant of Probate.

If someone dies without leaving a valid Will there is a defined order as to who is entitled to apply as an administrator of the estate. The document issued by the Probate Registry is called a Grant of Letters of Administration.

If there is a valid Will but the executor has died or is unable to take up their role, then an application can be made for a Grant of Letters of Administration with Will by someone else named in the Will.

Here at stevensdrake one of our highly experienced team will be able to assist with all aspects of the administration of an estate and can provide as much or as little help as required. Further, for a quote on our charges for preparing your Will, or advice on drafting or administering or the advisability of a Trust, please contact us.

Full Estate Administration

If you require us to handle the full process for you then our fees in the following circumstances would be a fixed price of £4,000 plus VAT plus disbursements.  We also charge printing and copy charges on top of our fixed price at 40p per black and white copy and 60p per colour copy. Remember, the estate will also have to pay any HMRC taxes charged to it as well.

The fixed price applies to +

•    There is a valid will
•    There is no more than one property – the conveyancing costs of selling or transferring a property are additional,       and where relevant we will advise you of those and separately agree on those costs with you
•    There are no more than five bank or building society accounts in the UK
•    There are no other intangible assets (e.g. stocks & shares, mobile home, overseas assets)
•    There are no more than four 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, or caveats entered against the taking of the Grant Probate, and the       Will Probate is not contested
•    All of the assets and property are situated in the UK

We will guide you through the entire process.

Your matter will be handled by a dedicated and experienced probate lawyer, who will work on your matter efficiently and effectively and keep you updated of all relevant developments. Typically, that will include: +

•    Taking your instructions and providing you with initial advice
•    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  Grant Application and the relevant HMRC forms
•    Draft a legal oath for you to swear
•    Make the application to the Probate Court on your behalf
•    Obtain the Probate Grant and securely send two copies to you
•    Collect in and distribute all assets in the estate
•    Liaise with you and deal with any queries from the beneficiaries
•    Prepare and maintain estate accounts

This fixed cost includes all the advice and assistance you would normally require.

What the fixed cost includes +

•    advice about construing clauses correctly;
•    tax efficiency and the interaction of Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax reliefs during the estate administration       process;
•    advice to avoid matters becoming contentious;
•    advice on whether to retain previous trust clauses or wind the trust up;
•    advice on what checks to make to discover missing assets or liabilities and
•    any other advice where required and within the scope of the estate administration 

If advice outside of these areas is required then we will provide you with an estimate for this.

However, the exact cost depends on the individual circumstances of the matter, and we will give you a better indication of costs once we have an idea of how straightforward or complex the estate administration will be.

Additional costs over and above the fixed cost may include +

•    If there is no will or the estate consists of any shareholdings (stocks and bonds) there is likely to be additional costs       that could vary significantly depending on the estate and how it is to be dealt with. We can give you a more       accurate estimate once we have more information.
•    Dealing with the sale or transfer of any property in the estate is not included.  We can advise you of the cost to deal       with either a sale or transfer if required.
•    If we have to transfer money for you electronically we will charge you a fee of £35.00 plus VAT to incorporate the       amount charged to us by our bank, together with an administrative charge for handling the transfer.

Complex Estates

In some cases, the estate may not qualify for the fixed price fee.

Where the estate is complex (for example, if it comprises of more than one property or where there are large share portfolios, multiple beneficiaries, overseas assets or it may be potentially contentious) we may agree to work on an hourly rate basis. We will in these cases provide an estimate to you for what the likely fees will be, and keep you updated if there are any developments. Traditionally, lawyers charge for their services by an hourly charge out rate, depending on the experience and seniority of the lawyer concerned.

Our rates +

Our team’s normal hourly charge out rate is currently £200 plus VAT and £135 plus VAT for our paralegals. Hourly charge out rates for other lawyers who may work on your matter usually vary from £195 plus VAT for an assistant solicitor, and for a partner from £290 plus VAT. We will set out and obtain your agreement to who in the team could be working on your matter and their rates, in advance.

Disbursements

Disbursements are the fees and expenses we have to pay on your behalf to third parties, such as probate Court fees, Land Registry fees or advertisements in the local newspapers. Disbursements need to be added to our cost set out above.  We will obtain money on account from you at the outset of the estate administration to cover these, and to ensure we can pay them on your behalf.

Likely disbursements +

The sort of disbursements that may be payable are as follows:-

•    Probate application fee of £155 plus 50p per copy Grant (usually one is required for each asset/organisation)
•    Swearing of the oath ( £5-£7 per person, costs depends on whether there is a Will or not), unless a statement of       truth has been utilised in certain circumstances
•    Bankruptcy searches (£2 per beneficiary)
•    The London Gazette advertisement – Protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors (variable)
•    Post in a Local Newspaper – This also helps to protect against unexpected claims (variable)
•    Land Registry fee to a obtain copy of a property title (£3 per document)
•    Mail Redirection (if necessary)
•    Will Search - £114 (if required)

Inheritance Tax and other tax liabilities

Inheritance Tax (“IHT”) may have to be paid but this depends upon the size and nature of the estate.  This area of law is quite complex but as part of the fixed costs, we will ascertain whether any exemptions or reliefs can be applied to the estate and complete the necessary forms.  If it transpires that further investigative work is required to evidence the right to make the relevant claims in respect of IHT, then we will advise on any further costs that may arise.

Any tax (Inheritance tax, Capital Gains Tax or Income Tax) will be payable in addition to this firm’s fees.

Inheritance tax illustration +

The following example of the current inheritance tax rules (for 2018/2019 tax year) is for illustrative purposes only and is not to be taken as applicable in every estate administration.

  • IHT standard nil rate band (individual person allowance) - £325,000

If spouses/civil partners leave everything to the other on the first death, then a “Transferable Nil Rate Band” can be applied to the estate of the second to pass away:

  • IHT standard nil rate band (individual person allowance) - £325,000 PLUS

  • Transferable Nil Rate Band - £325,000

  • TOTAL AMOUNT OF ALLOWANCES APPLIED - £650,000

Residence Nil Rate Band

Depending upon your personal circumstances it may be possible to apply an additional nil rate band called the “Residence nil rate band”.  The rules surrounding eligibility are complex but in simple terms, if you own and reside in a property and you leave your estate to persons who qualify for the additional allowance, then the following additional reliefs may be applied

  • Residence Nil Rate Band (as at 2018/19 tax year) - £125,000

If spouses/civil partners leave everything to the other on first death and they qualify for the Residence nil rate band, then a “Transferable Residence Nil Rate Band” can be applied to the estate of the second to pass away.

Therefore, it may be possible, under current legislation that a couple, leaving their estates to each other and their children, owning and living in their matrimonial home, may have up to £900,000 of IHT allowances to apply to their estates when the second of them passes away.

  • Transferable Nil Rate Band

  • IHT standard nil rate band (individual person allowance)

  • TOTAL AMOUNT OF STANDARD NRB

  • PLUS

  • IHT standard nil rate band (individual person allowance)

  • Transferable Residence Nil Rate Band of 2nd spouse/cp (2018/19 tax year)

  • TOTAL AMOUNT OF RESIDENCE NRB

+

£325,000

£325,000

£650,000

£125,000

£125,000

£250,000

£900,000

GRAND TOTAL OF ALLOWANCES APPLIED

  • Transferable Nil Rate Band

  • IHT standard nil rate band (individual person allowance)

  • TOTAL AMOUNT OF STANDARD NRB

  • PLUS

  • IHT standard nil rate band (individual person allowance)

  • Transferable Residence Nil Rate Band of 2nd spouse/cp (2018/19 tax year)

  • TOTAL AMOUNT OF RESIDENCE NRB

+

£325,000

£325,000

£650,000

£125,000

£125,000

£250,000

£900,000

GRAND TOTAL OF ALLOWANCES APPLIED

The Residence NRB will increase over the next two tax years to a maximum of £175,000 per qualifying individual so that it may be possible to apply £1m of exemptions and reliefs.

The rules surrounding IHT are very complex and we strongly recommend that you contact us to discuss these elements further.

How long will this take?

Normally, we expect to be in a position to apply for the Grant of Representation within 2 to 3 months and to complete the administration of the Estate within 6 to 9 months.  However, we must emphasise that unforeseen problems and issues may arise (as they frequently do in respect of estates), which mean that these timescales may be exceeded. Given the nature of estates, which rely upon the co-operation of several external parties (including the court and HMRC), we cannot always precisely predict how long it will take to obtain the Grant of Representation or complete the administration of the Estate.

Grant Extraction Only – Fixed Fee

Where you want to deal with the administration and winding up of the estate yourself, but need assistance in obtaining the Grant from the court, we can help you through this difficult process. We will obtain the Grant of Representation for you, and you then deal with the collection of the assets and distribution in accordance with the Will or according to the statutory order of entitlement if there is no Will (i.e intestacy).

How much this service costs depends upon what level of tax applies to the Estate, and which HMRC forms are required to be completed. Remember, the estate will also have to pay any HMRC taxes charged to it as well.

Straightforward estates (IHT205) are charged at £1750 plus VAT, and more complex estates (IHT400) at £2,750 plus VAT, plus disbursements. We will add printing and copy charges to our fees charged at 40p per black and white copy and 60p per colour copy.

The differing tax submissions +

For straight forward estates, the less complex form (known as the IHT205) is required, and we would charge a fixed fee of £1750 plus VAT (total £2100 including VAT)

For more complex estates, the more complex and detailed form (known as the IHT400) is required, and if there is inheritance tax that needs to be calculated and is payable then we would charge a fixed fee of £2750 plus VAT (total £3300 including VAT)

In addition, disbursements will need to be added to the fee. We will let you know what these are in advance, and obtain money on account from you to enable us to pay these on your behalf.

Likely disbursements +

The sort of disbursements that may be payable are as follows:-

  • Probate application fee of £155 plus 50p per copy Grant (usually one is required for each asset/organisation)

  • Swearing of the oath ( £5-£7 per person, costs depends on whether there is a Will or not; and if a statement of truth is applied instead in certain circumstances)

  • Land Registry fee to obtain a copy of a property title (£3 per document)

  • Will Search - £114 (if required)

This fixed cost includes all the advice and assistance you would normally require.

What the fixed cost includes +
  • Advise about construing clauses correctly and identifying the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries

  • Accurately identify the type of application required

  • Prepare IHT205/IHT400 and supplementary pages for HMRC from information supplied by you

  • Prepare the required Oath and arrange for all personal representatives to be sworn (or apply statement of truth where utilised in specific circumstances)

  • Submit an application to the Probate Registry on your behalf and obtain the original grant plus sealed copies as requested by you

  • As you will have only instructed us to obtain the grant on your behalf, the sealed copies will be sent to you to carry out the rest of the administration yourself.

However, if you require additional advice, then we will provide you with an estimate for this additional work.

Common areas of additional work +
  • the tax efficiency of the estate,

  • the interaction of Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax reliefs during the estate administration process

  • advice to avoid matters becoming contentious;

  • advice on whether to retain previous trust clauses or wind the trust up;

  • advice on what checks to make to discover missing assets or liabilities, or

  • any other advice where required and within the scope of the estate administration 

Any tax (Inheritance tax, Capital Gains Tax or Income Tax) will be payable in addition to this firm’s fees.

Whether Inheritance Tax (“IHT”) will have to be paid, and how much, depends upon the size and nature of the estate.  As part of the fixed costs, we will ascertain whether any exemptions or reliefs can be applied to the estate and complete the necessary forms.  If it transpires that further investigative work is required to evidence the right to make the relevant claims in respect of IHT, then we will advise on what our additional charges will be for that additional work.

Inheritance tax illustration +

Standard Nil Rate Band

The following example of inheritance tax is for illustrative purposes only and may not be applicable in every estate administration.  

IHT is payable on the value of an estate that exceeds the current threshold of £325,000.

If spouses/civil partners leave everything to the other on first death, then no IHT is payable on the estate of the first to pass away and a “Transferable Nil Rate Band” can be applied to the estate of the second to pass away:

  • IHT standard nil rate band (individual person allowance)

  • IHT standard nil rate band (individual person allowance)

  • Transferable Nil Rate Band

  • TOTAL AMOUNT OF ALLOWANCES APPLIED

£325,000 PLUS

£325,000

£325,000

£650,000

If spouses/civil partners leave everything to the other on first death, then no IHT is payable on the estate of the first to pass away and a “Transferable Nil Rate Band” can be applied to the estate of the second to pass away:

  • IHT standard nil rate band (individual person allowance)

  • IHT standard nil rate band (individual person allowance)

  • Transferable Nil Rate Band

  • TOTAL AMOUNT OF ALLOWANCES APPLIED

£325,000 PLUS

£325,000

£325,000

£650,000

Residence Nil Rate Band

Depending upon your personal circumstances it may be possible to apply an additional nil rate band called the “Residence nil rate band”.  The rules surrounding eligibility are complex but in simple terms, if you own and reside in a property and you leave your estate to persons who qualify for the additional allowance, then the following additional reliefs may be applied:

  • Residence Nil Rate Band (as at 2018/19 tax year) - £125,000

If spouses/civil partners leave everything to the other on first death and they qualify for the Residence nil rate band, then a “Transferable Residence Nil Rate Band” can be applied to the estate of the second to pass away.

Therefore, it may be possible, under current legislation that a couple, leaving their estates to each other and their children, owning and living in their matrimonial home, may have up to £900,000 of IHT allowances to apply to their estates when the second of them passes away.

PLUS

GRAND TOTAL OF ALLOWANCES APPLIED

£250,000

£900,000

  • Transferable Nil Rate Band

  • IHT standard nil rate band (individual person allowance)

  • TOTAL AMOUNT OF STANDARD NRB

  • Residence Nil Rate Band of 1st spouse/civil partner (2018/19 tax year)

  • Transferable Residence Nil Rate Band of 2nd spouse/cp (2018/19 tax year)

  • TOTAL AMOUNT OF RESIDENCE NRB

£650,000

£325,000 +

£325,000

£125,000

£125,000

PLUS

GRAND TOTAL OF ALLOWANCES APPLIED

£250,000

£900,000

  • Transferable Nil Rate Band

  • IHT standard nil rate band (individual person allowance)

  • TOTAL AMOUNT OF STANDARD NRB

  • Residence Nil Rate Band of 1st spouse/civil partner (2018/19 tax year)

  • Transferable Residence Nil Rate Band of 2nd spouse/cp (2018/19 tax year)

  • TOTAL AMOUNT OF RESIDENCE NRB

£650,000

£325,000 +

£325,000

£125,000

£125,000

The Residence NRB will increase over the next two tax years to a maximum of £175,000 per qualifying individual so that it may be possible to apply £1m of exemptions and reliefs.

The rules surrounding IHT are very complex and we strongly recommend that you contact us to discuss these elements further. We normally expect to obtain the Grant of Representation within three to six weeks. However, we must emphasise that unforeseen problems and issues may arise (as they frequently do in respect of estates), which may increase the time it takes.

Who to contact to learn more

Our experienced Wills, Trusts and Probate Team are there to help you through what can be an anxious and confusing time. Contact us to find out more, or to see what we can do for you; or fill in our online enquiry and we will get back to you as soon as possible.