Probate and trusts
Understanding the costs of administering an estate
Last updated; 1st May 2020
Our fee structure for probate matters is based on the time spent in the conduct of the administration of the estate. The exact cost of an individual matter will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter. Factors which could increase or decrease the overall costs in a matter include;
- whether there is a valid will;
- any property being held within the estate;
- multiple assets held in the estate;
- multiple beneficiaries;
- the requirement (or not) to submit an inheritance tax return;
- an appointment of Hughes Solicitors as executors;
- a claim being made against the estate; or
- whether there is any dispute between beneficiaries.
The following Schedule of Fees indicates the time we anticipate would be required to deal with a typical* estate of various values, charged at a partner’s or senior solicitor’s hourly rate of £270 plus VAT.
Gross Estate Value Range of costs (incl. VAT)
|Estate value||Typical* amount of time required||
|Up to 250,000||10 – 20 hours||3,240 – 6,480|
|250,001 – 500,000||16 – 26 hours||5,184 – 8,424|
|500,001 – 750,000||22 – 32 hours||7,128 – 10,368|
|750,001 – 1,000,000||28 – 40 hours||9,072 – 12,960|
|1,000,001 – 2,000,000||40 – 60 hours||12,960 – 19,440|
|Over 2,000,001||60 hours +||19,440 +|
*A more accurate quote can be provided when we have received the initial information regarding the estate.
All costs quoted above are inclusive of VAT. Other professionals involved, for example with the valuation of assets, will charge separately for their services. Any taxes which may be payable by an estate, for example inheritance tax, will be additional to the costs indicated above.
Disbursements are costs related to your matter which are payable to third parties, such as court fees, and are outside our control.
We will handle the payment of disbursements on your behalf, and the following costs are normally required:
|Probate Court fees||Approx. £160|
|Redirection of mail fees||Approx. £120|
|Advertisement for creditors||Approx. £250|
|Bankruptcy Search||£2 for each executor, beneficiary and deceased|
|Landmark Assets Search||Approx. £170|
What do these costs include?
The quotes indicated above include the following services:
- Providing you with a dedicated and experienced probate lawyer to work on your matter.
- Receiving documents, instructions, legal authorities and ascertaining who will undertake the administration.
- Dealing with compliance issues including formally identifying beneficiaries, placing Trustee Act notices and undertaking bankruptcy searches.
- Planning and advising on the legal and strategic management of the administration.
- Arranging for assets to be secured and protected for the duration of the administration.
- Verifying the extent and value of the assets and liabilities of the estate and obtaining valuations.
- Compiling an inventory of the estate.
- Reporting the estate for inheritance tax purposes, calculating and arranging to pay inheritance tax.
- Undertaking the appropriate type of application for Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration.
- Registering the Grant with the various institutions and collecting in the funds due to the estate and / or transferring assets to the beneficiaries.
- Settling liabilities.
- Paying legacies.
- Finalising inheritance tax and obtaining a formal clearance certificate, if necessary.
- Making an interim distribution to the beneficiaries.
- Finalising the estate’s income and capital gains affairs for the administration period and arranging to pay income / capital gains tax due.
- Preparing final estate accounts for executor / administrator approval.
- Making the final distributions.
Potential additional costs
We are happy to advise and assist with additional work that may be required which may not be anticipated at the outset of an administration for which there are likely to be additional costs. Costs could range significantly depending on the circumstances of the estate. This could include;
- Locating the original will (if any) and other relevant document for the administration.
- Registering the death with the Registrar of Deaths in the appropriate area.
- Dealing with any unforeseen indemnities in respect of missing documentation, certificates or deeds.
- Making enquiries, advertising etc. for missing / unknown beneficiaries.
- Making a search against the Unclaimed Assets Register (if required).
- Dealing with claims by DWP Recovery from Estates team where benefits may have been wrongly calculated.
- Finalising the deceased person’s income tax or capital gains tax affairs to the date of death.
- Conveyancing on the disposal of land by sale, assent, transfer or otherwise.
- Obtaining further affidavit evidence to prove the will at the Probate Registry.
- Dealing with a caveat entered at the Probate Registry.
- Advising beneficiaries on their personal tax position in relation to assets being transferred to them or sold on their behalf.
- Advising on an informal or formal variation of the deceased’s will or intestacy and any supplementary work required (for example preparing a deed of variation or disclaimer).
- Advising on and setting up any trust under the will.
- Advising or acting for trustees in relation to any trust in which the deceased had an interest or for which he or she acted as one of the trustees.
- Advising on and representing the estate in any claim for or against the estate.
- Dealing with complex or unusual assets and liabilities (for example Lloyds underwriting interest, private company shares, foreign assets and liabilities).
How long does an estate administration take?
Each estate that we administer is different and we cannot provide a precise timescale as to how long an administration will take as this can depend how quickly third parties, for example banks and HMRC deal with matters put before them amongst other factors. If there is a property to sell it can take 3 to 6 months to sell and this process cannot start until the Grant of Probate is obtained.
However, we aim to obtain a Grant of Probate within 3 to 5 months of receiving initial instructions. Typically, estate take between 9 and 18 months to wind up, though some make take longer for reasons particular to the estate.