Probate Pricing

Information on prices and services as required by Rule 1 of the SRA Transparency Rules

In December 2018 the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) published their new Transparency Rules, with the aim of making sure that consumers have the information they need to make an informed choice of legal service provider, including understanding what the costs may be. The rules require all regulated law firms to publish information on the prices they charge in relation to certain services, including Probate.

The services and pricing information which Swinburne Maddison is required to provide under these new rules are set out below.

If you have any questions in relation to the information provided on this page, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0191 384 2441.

 

General
A general note on legal fees relevant to estate administrations. It is difficult to generalise costs information in relation to estate administrations, given that each estate is different. The variables and “unknowns” can be numerous and do not exclusively relate to the estate’s value. For example:

  • The standard of record-keeping of deceased parties is variable, which impacts on the process of collecting paperwork, tracing all assets, and the time incurred in this task.
  • Each individual’s family circumstances are unique, and the number of beneficiaries with whom we are required to engage, their needs and requirements, and the risk that the estate will be contested by any disgruntled parties, are all factors which will have a bearing on our costs.
  • The lifetime gifts which the deceased made will need to be investigated, and can range from straightforward to difficult, depending on the pattern of giving concerned and the availability of evidence.
  • The extent of the deceased’s assets and liabilities and the identity and number of his/her chosen beneficiaries will always also vary from case to case.
  • If inheritance tax and/or capital gains tax are due to be paid within the administration period then this will almost always lead to higher charges. The arrangements for payments of these duties can also be time consuming in estates in estates in which there are few liquid cash assets.
  • The subsequent sale of assets may prove complicated if, for instance, the deceased had many personal possessions, investments, and/or properties

As a result of the above, it is very difficult for us to provide an accurate indication of how much time will be required to deal with a “typical” probate instruction.

 

Pricing

We can however confirm that in all cases, our charges are raised on the basis of two elements, as follows:

  1. Time incurred at the hourly rate of the individual who will be involved in dealing with the matter. Applicable hourly rates (exclusive of VAT) are currently as follows:
    Partner - £250
    Managing Associate - £225
    Solicitor - £195
    Legal Executive - £185
    Trainee Solicitor - £130

  2. Law Society approved ‘Value Element’ added mark-up.

An added value element (plus VAT) will be charged, as approved by the Law Society, to reflect the type and value of the assets comprising the estate and the complexity of administering it. The Law Society Value Element (exclusive of VAT) that usually applies, as modified in this instance, are set out below.

Solicitor not an Executor

Gross estate less residence 1%
Residence 0.5%

Solicitor sole Executor or joint Executor with any other person

Gross estate less residence 1.5%
Residence 0.75%


Ordinarily, estate administrations in which no Inheritance Tax is payable incur between 4 and 60 hours of time, with usual charges for time incurred therefore falling between £780 and £15,000 (exclusive of VAT).


An example at the lower end of the scale would be an extremely straightforward estate, where an individual had died leaving everything to his/her spouse, there were only 2-3 assets to administer, and very simple estate accounts to prepare.


An example at the higher end of the scale may involve an estate in which the deceased retained few records, had numerous personal possessions, assets were unknown and require thorough investigation at the outset of the matter, and/or the estate was required to be varied. There may also be a large number of beneficiaries.


Estate administrations which require a full Inheritance Tax return (and payment) to be made to HMRC will usually require between 20 and 120 hours of time, with charges therefore totalling between £3,900 and £30,000 (exclusive of VAT).


An example at the lower end of this scale would likely involve an estate in which the assets were not numerous, could be ascertained and valued in a straightforward manner, with no corrective accounts being required following payment of the inheritance tax bill. It would also likely involve only one or two beneficiaries.


An example at the higher end of the scale may involve an estate in which the deceased made extensive lifetime gifts, had not settled his/her tax affairs to the date of death, had numerous properties which required maintenance and/or realised capital gains on sale, and involved multiple beneficiaries or a variation to the terms of the Will.

Assumptions on which the above information is provided
The fee ranges we have set out above are based on several assumptions, as follows:

  1. There is either a valid Will held by the Deceased, or all relatives to inherit the estate via the intestacy rules are known and traceable. Evidence of their eligibility and relation to the deceased is readily available.
  2. It is agreed between all relevant parties at the outset who will act as our client and obtain the Grant, with no disputes or challenges to this arising in the course of the matter.
  3. If the estate is to be varied, then the terms of the variation is agreed by all relevant parties in a reasonable time.
  4. There are no disputes between beneficiaries as to the division of the deceased’s assets, or any claims made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
  5. There are no foreign or intangible assets which we are required to administer.

 

Disbursements

We have also outlined some of the disbursements (fees payable to third parties) that are likely to apply during the course of any administration, though again some of disbursements are specific to individual cases which are not listed. It will sometimes be necessary, for example, to engage third parties like valuers, house clearance firms, auctioneers, genealogists, estate agents etc, the fees of which cannot be quoted at present and would be sought on an individual basis.
We however believe that the following disbursements will be incurred routinely in almost all matters:


Land Registry Fees
If property is comprised within the estate, we will be required to check the title, at a fee of £3 per property.

Oath Fee
This is generally £7 per Executor or £5 per Administrator.

Probate Registry fee
The fee is £155 and there is also a charge of 50p for each additional Office Copy Grant of Probate.

Share Valuation fee
This is tends to be £25 + VAT but may vary depending upon the value of the shares.

Property valuation fee
This can be in the region of £150 plus VAT.

Statutory Notices
If required, these may be in the region of £200.

Bankruptcy Search
This search will need to be effected against all beneficiaries of a legacy or share in the residuary estate to ensure that the recipient is not an undischarged bankrupt. There is a charge of £2 per search.

Telegraphic Transfer (or Foreign Transfer) Fee
This is the fee for a same-day transfer of funds and applies at the rate of £36 (per transfer), if required by the beneficiary.

 

How long will my matter take?

The timescale in dealing with estate administrations also varies between cases.

In a straightforward estate in which there is no Inheritance Tax to pay, it will ordinarily take between 4-10 weeks from instruction to apply for the Grant of Probate.

Settling liabilities, any legacies, preparing estate accounts and distributions thereafter tends to take between 2-7 months. It is necessary to ensure that funds are held for at least six months following production of the Grant of Probate where there is any risk whatsoever that a claim may be brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

In an estate where there is Inheritance Tax to pay, the deadline for payment of tax is six months following the end of the month of death. The Grant of Probate will thereafter generally be obtained within one month. Collecting and distributing the estate may however take much longer than in a lower-value case, particularly if corrective accounts are required to be submitted to HMRC on sale of the estate’s assets, for instance. Ordinarily however estates can be finalised within 4-12 months from production of the Grant.


Grant-only applications
If the Executors/Administrators of an estate only require assistance obtaining the Grant of Probate/Grant of Letters of Administration, then we are able to help. Our fees for a ‘Grant Only’ instruction are subject to you being able to provide us with all date of death values – those being for each asset that the deceased owned, and also for each liability that the deceased had.


In a Grant only instruction, it is typically the case that you wish to deal with the whole of the administration of the estate following the issue of the Grant, and enlist our professional assistance purely in completing the HMRC Inheritance Tax form, the Oath and the Estate Accounts to the date of death, before then applying for the Grant.


In such cases, we are able to provide a fixed fee of £650 plus VAT, however this is subject to there being no requirement for our involvement in obtaining the date of death asset/liability values.


In the event that the estate requires the more complicated Inheritance Tax form ‘IHT 400’ and its accompanying Schedules to be completed, then the above quote will not apply and the instruction will need to be based on the hourly charging rate of the Solicitor involved due to the additional time consumption and complexity involved.