Wards fees chargeable for probate administration vary depending upon the size and complexity of an estate. Complexity is not always linked to the value of the estate. Sometimes small but complex estates can be more time consuming to resolve than a large straightforward one.
We offer a free initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers. This meeting allows us to provide you with a more accurate and tailored estimate of fees. We are also happy on occasion to agree a fixed fee with you if you prefer certainty.
Our clients work with an individual lawyer from the large Wills and Probate Team. There is always access to a range of expertise if unusual or complex matters arise during the course of the administration. Regardless of who is working on your matter they are supervised by the head of department, Jenny Pierce who is a highly experienced expert in this area.
Wards charges for acting in the administration of an estate
Wards fees are calculated by reference to the time a lawyer spends working on the matter. A value element is also charged.
There are a range of hourly charging rates across the team shown in the table below.
|Hourly rate||20% VAT||VAT Inclusive Hourly Rate|
|Solicitor Associate/ Legal Executive||£265||£53||£318|
In addition to our hourly rates we charge a value element based on the size and nature of the estate. Where Wards Solicitors act as the Executor named in the Will the value element is 0.75% of the value of any home plus 1.5% of the gross value of the rest of the estate.
Where someone at Wards Solicitors is not the Executor of a Will, the value element will be 0.5% of the value of any home plus 1% of the gross value of the rest of the estate.
Half of the value element will be billed when the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration issues and the other half at the conclusion of the matter.
At the outset of the estate administration an estimate of Wards Solicitors fees for the completion of the work is given to the Executors or Administrators for approval. Once approved this information is then usually given to the beneficiaries for their approval.
The final fee depends on the individual circumstances of the Deceased, their chosen beneficiaries and the value and complexity of the estate.
There are many variables some of which we will not know about at the outset which means that the estimate may be higher or lower than the final costs charged.
We will let you know during the course of the matter where fees are in relation to the estimate. If we are going to exceed the estimate we will let you know and we will also explain the reasons why.
We will provide an estimate of the number of hours we believe the estate administration will take. The number of hours is multiplied by the hourly rate of the lawyer who is acting in the estate administration which is how we arrive at the time costs estimate.
Where we do not have full knowledge of the assets and liabilities in the estate at the outset we will give a range of estimated fees. Once we have further knowledge of how the estate is made up and what will be involved we can provide a more accurate estimate.
For example, if there is one beneficiary and no property costs will be at the lower end of the range. If there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, costs will be at the higher end.
In addition to our legal fees there will be expenses (sometimes called disbursements) these are :-
- The probate application fee of £273 plus £1.50p for each copy of the Grant of Probate required.
- Trustee Act Notices cost approximately £200 inclusive of VAT.
- Bankruptcy searches are undertaken against each beneficiary at a cost of £2 each.
- A copy of the title to property may be required from the Land Registry at a cost of £3.
- Copy Death Certificates at £11 each.
Wards Solicitors fixed fees for acting in the application for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
The fixed fee for applying for the Grant when an estate is not subject to Inheritance Tax is £1,750 plus VAT of £350 giving a total of £2,100.
The fixed fee for applying for the Grant when an estate is subject to Inheritance Tax is £2,750 – £3750 plus VAT of £550 – £750 giving a total of £3,300 – £4500.
When making the application for Grant only we are reliant on the client having accurately undertaken the work up to the point where the application for Grant can be made. We do not undertake the work up to the issue of the Grant of Probate, deal with the business on receipt of the Grant or in the winding up of the estate unless further instructions are received.
The disbursement payable when we apply for the Grant is £273 plus £1.50p for each copy of the Grant of Probate required.
What is included in the business of fully administering an estate
The business of administrating an estate can be broadly divided into three stages as follows:-
1. Work up to the issue of the Grant of Probate / Representation may include:
- Locating the Will and ensuring it is the last Will and is validly made.
- Supplying copies of the Will to interested parties (and if no Will, assessing who is entitled).
- Advising Executors / Administrators as to the process.
- Registering the death and preparing the Death Certificate Verification Forms.
- Organising the funeral and payment for it where possible.
- Securing the main residence by changing the locks and ensuring it is insured.
- Identifying the beneficiaries and liaising with them to explain their entitlement under the Will. This will include advice about the incidence of Inheritance Tax in the estate.
- Contacting all financial and other organisations to inform them of the death and gathering information about assets and liabilities in the estate.
- Liaising with Trustees where the Deceased was a beneficiary of a Trust during their lifetime.
- Valuing the contents of any home.
- Contacting utility companies, organising a postal redirection and keeping the property maintained prior to sale or transfer.
- Liaising with surveyors and estate agents regarding the value of the property at the date of death.
- Preparing an Income Tax Return to the date of death.
- Receiving responses from all organisations allowing us to prepare the Oath for swearing by the Executors or Administrators.
- Completing the Inheritance Tax Return for HM Revenue and Customs and claiming all available reliefs.
- Negotiation with HM Revenue and Customs when necessary.
- Organising payment of Inheritance Tax (if any) prior to the Grant issuing.
- Making the application for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration through the Probate Registry.
- Organising the sale or clearance of household contents.
- Tracing of beneficiaries.
2. Work usually required after receipt of the Grant may include:
- Registering the Grant in all appropriate quarters.
- Realising assets to repay any liabilities.
- Sale of any land and property in the estate.
- Placing of advertisements for creditors.
- Consider making partial distributions to the beneficiaries.
- Searching the Unclaimed Assets Register.
- Preparing and submitting a final Income Tax Return for the period of estate administration.
- Submitting a corrective account to HM Revenue and Customs if necessary.
3. Work usually required to finalise an estate may include
- Agreeing the final liability and obtaining a Certificate of Discharge from HM Revenue and Custom to include completing Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax Returns and issuing of certificates of deduction of tax to beneficiaries.
- Preparing and circulating accounts.
- Making final distributions and obtaining receipts.
- Undertaking bankruptcy searches against beneficiaries.
- Distributing assets in accordance with the Will and finalising the administration.
- Constituting any Trusts that arise out of the Will and transferring matters to the Wards Trust Team (where relevant) to deal with any continuing Trust administration.
Timescale for dealing with a complete estate administration
|Action||Average Time Scale|
|1. Work up to the issue of the Grant of Probate / Representation||Three months|
|2. Work upon receipt of Grant||A further three to six months|
|3. Winding up the estate||A further three to six months|
The time guidelines are approximate and each estate can vary depending on the assets and matters involved and the information provided to us. Where we believe there may be a claim against the estate we will advise waiting ten months from the date the Grant issues until final distribution.
Timescale for Grant only applications
When applying for a Grant where no Inheritance Tax is payable the approximate timescale for drafting and checking paperwork, making the application for and receiving the Grant is two months.
When applying for a Grant where Inheritance Tax is payable the approximate timescale for drafting and checking paperwork, calculating Inheritance Tax, claiming tax reliefs, paying Inheritance Tax, making the application for and receiving the Grant is three – four months.
Both of the above time estimates allow six weeks for the Probate Registry to issue the Grant. The actual time taken varies depending upon how busy the Probate Registry are at any one time.
**Due to the pandemic we are finding that some applications for Probate are taking longer than anticipated as HMCTS and HMRC have enormous backlogs. It is making it harder for us to predict how long it will take for a Grant to be issued. We are experiencing different turn around rates.
The following areas of legal advice are not included in the charges for acting in the complete administration of an estate and, if relevant, would be estimated for separately:-
- Conveyancing. Where we are acting as Executors Wards will also undertake the conveyancing work. To find out about Wards conveyancing fees please click here.
- Deeds of Variation to mitigate Inheritance Tax or provide for people who it is felt should have been benefiting from a person’s estate.
- Ongoing Trust administration work emanating from a person’s Will.