Streathers Solicitors has a highly experienced private client department. Our lawyers have expertise in various fields including probate and the administration of estates.
The estates we assist with vary greatly, from complex estates involving high value or unique assets in multiple jurisdictions, to simple UK estates with no inheritance tax payable.
Decades of experience tells us that all probate matters are different. In every case we ensure we work closely with the family and personal representatives to provide clear advice and guidance on what needs to be done, how long this will take and how much it will cost.
Because the services we offer are bespoke, the following charges are intended to be an outline guide only and the exact figure will always depend on individual facts and circumstances of the matter.
We will give you an initial estimate which is tailored to these specific facts and circumstances once information about the estate’s assets, its beneficiaries and relevant documents have been considered.
We do not offer fixed fees for our work on an estate administration and we do not charge our fees on a percentage of the value of the estate.
We charge on a time-spent basis – calculated by reference to hourly rates. Our hourly rates range between £160 per hour (for a trainee solicitor) to £400 per hour (for a senior partner).
For a straightforward probate matter, we estimate this would take approximately 10 - 15 hours and our fees would be likely to be in the region of £2,000 - £4,000 + VAT.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples which make a probate matter straightforward:
- There is a valid Will;
- There is no more than one property;
- There are no legal issues with the title to the property;
- There are a small number of bank or building society accounts;
- There are a small number of shareholdings or one share portfolio with a single investment manager;
- Where applicable, there are share certificates for all shareholdings;
- There are no other intangible assets;
- There are a small number of beneficiaries;
- There are no disputes between beneficiaries;
- There are no claims made against the Estate; and
- There is no inheritance tax to pay and the executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC.
Where the estate is subject to inheritance tax and we need to submit a full account to HMRC, this will take longer and accordingly our costs will be higher. If the probate is otherwise broadly regarded as straightforward (i.e. points 1 to 10 above still apply), our fees are likely to be in the region of £5,000 - £8,000 + VAT.
Where the estate is subject to inheritance tax and there are other factors meaning it is not a straightforward estate our fees are likely to be in excess of £10,000 + VAT.
These examples demonstrate how our costs will vary depending on the situation. We recognise the importance of transparency concerning costs and would provide a bespoke written estimate once we were clear about the extent of the work required.
Disbursements will also be payable. These are costs relating to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as the Probate Registry. We handle the payment of disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. The disbursements are likely to include the following:
Probate application fee of £155 (+ court sealed copies of the Grant of Representation @ £0.50 per copy). NB this fee is due to increase significantly in April 2019.
£155 + copies
Bankruptcy Search Fee (per search)
Post in the London Gazette and local newspaper (to protect the Estate against claims from unknown creditors)
Surveyor’s fees (to provide a formal probate valuation of a property)
TBC but typically in excess of £500 + VAT
How long will the administration of the Estate take?
In most cases obtaining the Grant of Probate typically takes approximately 12 weeks. Straightforward estates can be concluded within a matter of a few months. However for more complex estates we tend to find that the average timeframe is approximately 6-9 months.
The precise timeframe will always depend on a range of factors such as the complexity of the assets, the need for valuations, the level of engagement of the executors, beneficiaries and the speed of response from other third parties such as HMRC or share registrars. In cases where there are large numbers of queries from HMRC or unsold properties/assets, the process can take much longer.
Key stages in the probate process
The stages will vary depending on the circumstances although most cases will generally involve:
- Meeting with the executors or the family to take instructions and discuss the process;
- Obtaining details of assets and liabilities of the estate;
- Preparing an inheritance tax return and probate application;
- Collecting in the deceased's assets and settling any liabilities; and
- Distributing the estate and finalising the tax position.
Our costs set on this page are based on our work broadly compromising the above steps A – E and do not include any of the following:
- Contested estates;
- Costs for drafting Deeds of Variation of Disclaimer or other Affidavits, if they are required;
- Costs associated with drafting Powers of Attorney, where the personal representatives appoint us to obtain probate on their behalf;
- Estate Planning advice;
- Dealing with an intestacy or insolvent estate;
- Arranging insurance;
- Time spent tracing assets or beneficiaries;
- Time spent in the more day-to-day duties of the personal representative, such as closing utility or council tax accounts or arranging house clearance;
- Work in relation to pre-death tax returns and confirming the pre-death tax position;
- The sale or transfer of any property in the estate; and
- Administering and advising on any trust arising from the Will or otherwise.