What is Probate
Probate (or administration if the person died without a Will) is the process of obtaining the legal right to manage a deceased person’s estate. The executor must apply for a Grant of Probate, a legal document giving them the authority to deal with the deceased’s finances, assets and possessions. The probate process ends once the estate has been identified, all taxes and debts have been paid, and the inheritance has been distributed.
The death of a loved one is an emotional and difficult time. In all but simple estates a qualified lawyer can often ease the burden and remove the stress from the situation. In many cases they can speed up the process and add value by providing advice to mitigate any exposure to Inheritance Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax which may arise during the process. They will also have experience in arranging payment of funeral costs and how to raise funds to make an initial payment of Inheritance Tax should this be required.
It is important to mention that these general guidelines are based upon an estate where the assets are solely within the UK and where the estate is not complex or contested.
- Acting on your behalf to obtain a Grant of Representation but where you administer the estate; or
- Acting on your behalf in order to obtain a Grant of Representation and also to administer the estate on your behalf.
Is a Grant of Representation essential?
This depends upon the assets owned by the deceased at the date of death. If the deceased was the sole owner of a property (or owned a share as a tenant in common) then a Grant of Representation is essential. If the deceased person did not own a property then whether or not a Grant of Representation is necessary will depend upon what assets the deceased held. For example, some banks and building societies will not insist upon a Grant of Representation if the funds held with them are less than £10,000 and some will even release the funds held if they are less than £50,000.
Acting on your behalf to obtain a Grant of Representation only
In this case we would meet with you in order to review the required information, discuss the details with you and answer any questions you may have. Instructions can be taken by a face-to-face meeting or alternatively by post or email with a video call to verify your identity.
Based upon the information which you supply we would prepare the application for a Grant of Representation.
This would involve the preparation of:
The PA1P form or legal statement if applying online in order to apply for the Grant of Representation
An Inheritance Tax Return or Inheritance Tax Account (depending upon the value and circumstances of the estate)
- To apply for a Grant of Representation with an Inheritance Tax return: from £950 plus VAT
- To apply for a Grant of Representation with an Inheritance Tax return and to claim an unused Inheritance Tax Nil-Rate Band from a predeceased spouse or civil partner: from £1110+VAT
- To apply for a Grant of Representation completing a full Inheritance Tax Account: likely to be a minimum of £1,850 plus VAT but much will depend upon the complexity of the estate and whether we are involved in advising as to and arranging the payment of funds to HM Revenue & Customs to fund an initial payment of Inheritance Tax
NB: In each case a Probate Registry fee will be payable which is currently £155 plus £1.50 per additional Court sealed copy required. However, this is subject to change and this fee may increase.
Applying for a Grant of Representation and Administering the Estate on your behalf
In this situation we would meet with you in order to discuss the administration of the estate and to obtain from you all relevant information.
We would agree with you as to what steps we should take on your behalf and what steps you may wish to take in order to keep the legal costs down. For example, you may wish to deal with matters relating to a deceased person’s property such as the household insurance and the utility bills.
We would charge for our time based upon the hourly charging rate of the person carrying out the work. Currently our charges are £225 hour. In each case VAT is added to the hourly rate at the rate applicable at that time.
In the vast majority of cases we are able to provide an accurate assessment as to the likely costs which will be incurred. Estates vary considerably as does the work required to administer them. We will discuss your individual circumstances at the outset in order to provide a realistic cost estimate.
We charge on a time basis, however whilst we do not charge a percentage of the estate, as a guideline we often find that our costs for a larger estate (£1m +) may equate to 1 – 1.5% of the gross value of the estate. For a smaller estate (£100,000 – £300,000) typically costs may be in the region of 2% – 3% of the gross value of the estate. In addition a Probate Registry fee will be payable as detailed above. For an accurate quote speak to Sally or Linda about your specific circumstances
At the outset of the matter in the vast majority of cases we will be able to provide a likely timescale as to how long it will take. For a simple application for a Grant of Representation this can often be dealt with within 6-8 weeks. However, this is subject to the probate registries operating at full capacity which they have not done during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The time taken to administer an estate is more difficult to gauge as much depends upon the complexity of the assets. We would expect most straightforward estates (which do not involve a property) to be administered within 4-6 months. Where a property is involved and/or there is Inheritance Tax to pay we would often anticipate that the administration could take up to 9-12 months. Some cases can be considerably more involved and take even longer. However, we should be pleased to discuss the situation with you so that you are aware at the outset.
What is not included?
Any costs estimated will not include:
- The cost of publishing Statutory Notices to Creditors (which are notices usually published in the London Gazette and a local newspaper)
- The preparation of a Deed of Variation (this is where a beneficiary may wish to vary what is left to them so as to pass it on to someone else)
- Obtaining Counsel’s Opinion if the provisions of a Will are unclear
- Conducting a recognised search to see if there is any evidence of another Will being in existence
- Involving another department of the firm as required (such as our Property Department to sell a property or an order to dispose of an interest in a business or shares in a private company)
- Valuation fees from a Chartered Surveyor/estate agent in order to obtain a valuation of a property or valuation fees from a stockbroker in order to obtain a valuation of shareholdings or a valuation from an auctioneer in order to obtain a valuation of the chattels
Who will be responsible for the work?
Our Probate team is lead by Sally Taylor FInstLEx our head of probate and the administrator of estates since 2015. Sally is a Chartered Legal Executive and a director at Sussex Law.
Your matter will be supervised by Jane Cole FInstLEx who is a Chartered Legal Executive and the principal Director of the firm.
All members of our firm adhere to the Solicitors Regulation Authority Code of Conduct.