Probate Price and Service Information
Our people who regularly do probate work
All new probate matters will usually be dealt with personally by either Stephen Thorn or Samantha McAfee, who are both partners in the firm and very experienced solicitors in this area of work, and from time to time they may be helped by Catherine Thorn who is also a very experienced solicitor in this type of work; you can find further details of their training and experience in the “About Us” section of this website.
Our probate charges
At Drivers our probate charges are usually calculated solely by reference to the amount of time spent. (Very occasionally in exceptional cases we may add a value element, but this would be fully explained before you confirmed your instructions.) Our current charging rates are £240 plus VAT per hour for a partner and £230 plus VAT per hour for an associate solicitor.
The amount of time that has to be spent can vary enormously depending on individual circumstances. Factors which can increase the cost are having a large number of beneficiaries or a large number of different assets – particularly individual certificated shareholdings. On the other hand if executors are family members or friends who are able and willing to take on some of the legwork themselves, this can reduce the amount of time the solicitor needs to spend and thus the costs. If you wish to instruct us then an individual estimate will be given at the outset of the total costs at the end of the day, which will be updated as required.
However by way of illustration we can from our experience give an estimate of the likely range of costs in a straightforward estate, being one where:-
- There is a valid will.
- There is no more than one house or flat.
- There are no more than four bank or building society accounts.
- There are no other intangible assets such as shares.
- There are no foreign assets.
- The deceased’s personal tax affairs are straight forward with no outstanding tax returns required.
- There are one to four beneficiaries.
- There are no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets. If disputes arise this is likely to lead to an increase in costs.
- There is no Inheritance Tax payable and the executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC.
- There are no claims made against the estate.
On the basis that Drivers would be doing all the work needed to gather the necessary information concerning estate assets and debts in order to prepare the application for the Grant of Probate and subsequently collect and distribute the assets (to include reporting to HMRC on estate income and any capital gains and preparing any statements of tax required by the beneficiaries), we anticipate that the range of costs would be £1,000 to £2,000 which with VAT at 20% would be £1,200 to £2,400.
To this sum we would need to add various expenses related to your matter which are payable to third parties – these are often known as “disbursements”. We handle the payment of these on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. The ones which we would definitely need to pay in this example estate would be as follows:-
- Court fee for the Probate application; currently a flat fee of £155, but likely to change from April 2019 when the Government is hoping to introduce a new system of the fee being calculated by reference to the value of the estate. This new system would mean significantly higher probate court fees for higher value estates. This controversial measure is still making its way through Parliament; we will put up further details as and when the new system and its date of implementation have been finalised.
- Court fee for additional stamped “office copies” of the Grant – 50p per copy
- Bankruptcy-Only Land Charges Department searches of £2.40p per beneficiary including the VAT which we have to add to it – due to a recent taxation case we are now having to add VAT to any expenses where it has not already been charged if they are not pure expenses (such as Probate Court fees) but we are using the results of them in advising you.
(We do not include the traditional oath swearing fee of £7 per executor as the requirement for this was removed as from 27th November 2018.)
On this basis the total costs and disbursements including VAT for such a straightforward estate, assuming four beneficiaries and assets requiring four office copies, would be in the range £1,366.60 to £2,566.60.
There are additional disbursements which may be required. A common one is the cost of what are known as “Statutory Advertisements”. These protect executors from unexpected claims from unknown creditors of the estate. However they do not protect beneficiaries from such claims, so are not advisable in every case. Where Statutory Advertisements are needed, one must be placed in The London Gazette (currently at a cost of £74.58 including VAT) and another in a local newspaper circulating in the area/s where the deceased owned land – the London Gazette can place such a notice for an additional fee of £222 including VAT, although it may be possible to arrange one directly with a local newspaper for a cheaper fee.
In certain circumstances we may carry out an additional electronic verification of identity for new clients particularly if we are not able to meet them in person; we normally charge for this an additional £10 plus £2 VAT per name checked.
With more complex estates, further expenses may need to be paid such as fees for formal valuations of property and shares, and also search fees if for instance there are beneficiaries who need to be traced or there is a need to check for possible wills - which can be a particular issue where there is apparently no will.
With estates of higher value or where other circumstances apply (for instance the deceased has made considerable lifetime gifts or owned at their death a large amount of foreign property) an Inheritance Tax account will probably be required and Inheritance Tax may be payable. At the outset our solicitor will explore this with you.
When it comes to the deceased’s home the requirements may be minimal, particularly if the deceased’s interest in it passes automatically to a surviving owner. Should it be decided to sell the property and Drivers be instructed to act in the sale then the work will be dealt with separately by our conveyancing department which will charge separately for the matter – see the separate section concerning residential conveyancing for further details.
Before you confirm your instructions to us you will be given in writing a full itemisation of the likely costs and expenses tailored to the individual circumstances of the estate, and this is what will be definitive rather than the general guidance we are giving here.
The time that this process is likely to take
In the above example of a very straightforward estate, obtaining the grant of probate would be likely to take two to three months. Collecting assets then follows, which in this example should take no more than a month. If Statutory Advertisements are needed, there is a waiting period of two months before the estate can be distributed. The actual distribution should take only a couple of weeks. However it can take at least a month if not rather longer for the HMRC to reply to letters reporting on the tax of the estate whilst it is being wound up. All being well, with an estate so straightforward it may be possible to complete most of what is needed (including distributing the bulk of the estate) within six months, although it may take several months more for all the final loose ends to be tied up – notably finalising the estate’s tax with HMRC.