The death of a loved one can be one of the most difficult times of our lives.
Dealing with the administration of an estate of someone who has died can be time-consuming and stressful. At times like these, you need help and guidance to point you in the right direction, which is where our specialist Estate Administration team can assist.
At Ashtons Legal, we pride ourselves on delivering a great service for a fair price. We do not set out to be the cheapest. As one of the largest law firms in East Anglia, we deal with every complexity of estate administration, from fairly straightforward to highly complex multi-jurisdictional estates.
We have outlined example costs and timescales below; there are so many variables with an estate administration that we can only provide a range. To put these into context here is an actual case we have dealt with showing the exact timing and costs of this case.
A typical example of a probate case we finalised for a client in 2022
The client died leaving a house near Bury St Edmunds, three bank accounts, one investment bond, and personal belongings. There was an equity release mortgage on the property, which (during a buoyant property market) sold at £15,000 more than the value at death. . Her Personal Representatives (‘PRs’) instructed us to administer the entire estate, including the house sale. These instructions were received in 2021 during ongoing Covid restrictions, and HMRC, the Probate Registry and many institutions involved in estate administration were and remain (August 2022) struggling to achieve pre-Covid turnaround times.
|Initial Advice Meeting||1 hour meeting a month after the date of death with the PRs to discuss the probate process and receive all relevant paperwork. Enquiries were then made to establish assets and liabilities.|
|Pre-Grant of Probate||12 weeks from the date of death until the issue of the Grant of Probate.|
|Selling the property||27 weeks after the date of death and 14 weeks after the issue of the Grant of Probate.|
|Post-Grant Administration||40 weeks from the issue of the Grant of Probate until the estate was finalised, which includes completing all matters relating to the sale of the property, making substantial interim distributions within six weeks of completion of the sale of property, calling in liquid assets, settling liabilities, resolving Capital Gains Tax, completing all matters with HMRC, preparation of estate accounts and distributing to the beneficiaries, providing advice to the PRs as needed.|
The total cost of this Estate Administration was £8,774 which breaks down into the following components:
- The legal advice on the administration: £7,500
- The legal fees on the sale of the house: £1,093.20
- Probate Registry court fee: £158
- Land Registry fees and searches: £22.80
These prices include VAT at 20%.
In addition, there were estate agents’ commission of £4,488, house clearance of £750, executors expenses of £1,600 and final utility bills of £97.
We have a team of specialist lawyers, which includes members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), Law Society Probate Section, and Solicitors for the Elderly, with many years’ experience handling estate administration. At Ashtons Legal, we have the ability to draw on expertise within the team and wider firm to deal with complex tax issues, cross-border issues, business and agricultural estates and contentious probate and offer proactive advice on tax mitigation and planning.
We will tailor our estate administration service to your needs, from purely obtaining the Grant of Probate and advising on particular issues that may affect the estate through to taking on the full administration, including arranging the funeral and sorting out the house.
For those clients who wish to deal with the estate administration themselves, we provide a report of the steps required in your case following our initial meeting with you. We can then provide advice as and when needed.
Timescales are calculated from the date on which we receive substantive instructions. Please be aware that much of the process involves liaising with outside agencies such as financial institutions and HMRC whose timescales are outside our control. At present (August 2022), the impact of the Covid pandemic has delayed the turnaround times of both government bodies (HMRC, Probate Registry, DVLA, DWP and Passport Office) as well as many financial institutions with whom we deal in order to progress the administration of an estate. It is often difficult to obtain firm timescales, which is frustrating for all concerned. We find that chasing up for responses is not always effective and can serve only to increase costs for the client. We remain optimistic that the position is gradually improving.
On average, for a simple estate not liable to Inheritance Tax with no property to sell, the full administration takes in the region of 12- 18 months.
For a relatively simple estate liable to Inheritance Tax with one property to sell, on average, the full administration takes 18 to 24 months. However, there are more variations within this scenario which are out of our control e.g. selling the property and communication from the HMRC and other third parties. Such an estate may take longer to complete.
Estates that involve more complex Inheritance Tax issues and other factors such as:
- Significant lifetime gifts
- Claims for Business or Agricultural Property reliefs or for a reduced rate of Inheritance Tax
- Protracted correspondence with HMRC on Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax
- Administration of business or other complex assets
- Management and allocation of a substantial investment portfolio
- Interests under Trusts and their registration with HMRC
- Heritage assets.
can typically take 18 months to 48 months for the full administration.
All prices below are inclusive of VAT at 20%.
Our fixed fee for the initial meeting (of around one hour) is £660. However, if the meeting takes longer or the estate proves to be more complex, the fixed fee ranges from £660 to £1,020. We will tell you in the meeting if Inheritance Tax issues or other factors such as those in the list below may require further advice. Following the initial meeting, we will provide an extremely detailed written Report confirming the advice given.
If you wish to meet at your home or the home of the deceased, we are happy to do so. This is often helpful; in this case, the price may increase to include travelling time and expenses. We will provide a quote for you when we know the address.
We also offer remote video meetings, which can be helpful when PRs do not all live locally to our offices or are working and with limited time.
In some cases, you may only wish us to obtain the Grant of Probate. If you are able to supply full and accurate information, our fee for purely obtaining the Grant of Probate without further advice would range from £1,750 to £3,500 if the estate is straightforward and a full Inheritance Tax return is not required.
If the estate is not liable to Inheritance Tax and requires a full Inheritance Tax return but is more complex e.g. including substantial assets or claims are needed to secure reliefs from Inheritance Tax, our fee would typically range from £3,000 to £7,200.
There will be fees payable to third parties, e.g:
- A fee payable to the HM Courts and Tribunals Service of £273
- £1.50 for each copy of the grant required.
Full Estate Administration
Our fees for a typical estate where we carry out the whole administration range from around £4,500 to £7,000 for a simple estate to around £6,500 to £27,500 for a more complex estate not liable to Inheritance Tax with a limited number of assets. The fees for a typical estate liable to Inheritance Tax can range from £9,500 to £45,000.
The above example fees are for estates where:
- All assets are in the UK and the deceased and beneficiaries are all UK domiciled.
- There is a valid Will. Where there is no Will this is likely to lead to an increase in costs.
- There is no more than one residence for which we undertake supervision and clearance.
- There are no other intangible assets including interests under trusts.
- There are no claims made against the estate nor disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets. If disputes arise this is likely to lead to an increase in costs.
Dealing with the sale or transfer of any property or land in the estate or with any claim or dispute is not included.
Potential additional costs
Administration of estates involving factors such as significant lifetime gifts, claims for Business or Agricultural Property reliefs or for a reduced rate of inheritance tax, or protracted correspondence with HMRC, or administration of business or other complex assets, including management and allocation of a substantial investment portfolio, overseas aspects, interests under trusts or heritage assets are likely to involve an increase in costs which we will discuss and agree with you.
There will be fees payable to third parties e.g.
- A fee payable to the HM Courts and Tribunals Service of £273
- £1.50 for each copy of the grant required
- If wished, approximately £250 to place a statutory notice in The London Gazette and a local newspaper to protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors
- There may be additional expenses such as valuation fees, searches and insurance premiums payable during the administration
- If there are overseas assets, there may be charges relating to resealing the Grant and instructing overseas lawyers to assist in the collection of these assets.
Our price promise
At Ashtons Legal, we believe in ensuring that the right work is done at the right level but with the ability for the skills and expertise of our senior lawyers to be called upon as necessary.
We will always give you an individual cost estimate at the start of the transaction, taking into account the actual features of your estate. We will also discuss with you alternative methods of charging for our work (such as a fixed fee or hourly rate). We will always advise you immediately about any complications that arise and discuss the potential impact on price before any additional charges are incurred.
All our illustrative ranges have been calculated on the following hourly rates.
|Partners/Consultants||£310 to £395|
|Senior Associates||£290 to £315|
|Associates||£220 to £295|
|Solicitors/Chartered Legal Executives||£200 to £275|
|Trainee Legal Executives||£190 to £230|
|Trust Executive||£175 to £205|
|Trainee Trust Executive||£165 to £195|
|Trainee Solicitor||£160 to £195|
|Tax and Trust Assistant||£160 to £195|
|Paralegal||£145 to £230|
|Legal PA||£145 to £155|