In all cases, we provide a high quality personal service from an experienced Solicitor. We charge on a time basis for the work that we actually carry out and our fees do NOT include any element based upon the value of the estate. Our fees are based on our hourly rate of £240.00 (£250.00 for a partner, and £300.00 for the senior partner John Bays) per hour plus VAT (currently 20%). There will be disbursements (that is, out of pocket expenses such as oath fees and the Court probate fee). We will estimate how many hours’ work are likely to be needed and therefore we can tell you how much your case is likely to cost (without unforeseen complications). A straightforward case involving approximately four hours’ work will cost £960.00 plus VAT of £192.00 plus disbursements; a highly complex case involving some forty to fifty hours’ work will cost between £10,000.00 and £12,000.00 plus VAT of £2,000.00 to £2,400.00 plus disbursements.
In some cases, there is a question of whether or not the Will is valid or there is a claim against the estate. If these cannot easily be resolved, then the case becomes contentious, that is, it is likely to be litigated in Court. Litigation is dealt with separately and in the information we have provided here, it is assumed that no litigation is involved.
No inheritance tax is payable on estates of less than £325,000.00. In such cases, a short form inheritance tax return is used (eight pages). Where a widow or widower has died, the estate may have a double inheritance tax threshold and in these cases, two short forms are used (twelve pages). Where the estate includes property left to children, there is an additional inheritance tax allowance of up to £175,000 per deceased parent, depending on the date of death. For taxable cases, the long form inheritance tax return is needed (average forty pages). In addition, we advise on the inheritance tax position and arrange to pay at least some of the tax before the grant of probate can be obtained.
How concentrated or spread out are the assets?
If there are two or three bank accounts, we correspond with up to two or three banks. If there is a large share portfolio, a house or flat, several life insurance policies and accounts at several banks, then more correspondence is needed.
Dissent or cooperation
Dissent between the Executors and/or the beneficiaries always increases the length of time taken to make progress and a higher level of fees should be expected. In the most extreme cases where the family members do not get on, the same information has to be provided to each person separately and instead of having one meeting with all concerned present, it becomes necessary to have separate meetings.
Most estates involve minor utility bills or credit cards but it sometimes happens that there are multiple unpaid debts, for example where the deceased’s finances had not been effectively managed for some time before they died. Where there are multiple unpaid debts, more correspondence with the creditors is needed to verify the debts and pay them.
How many beneficiaries?
A husband may leave his estate to his wife or parents may leave their estate between their children. In these cases, there will be a small number of beneficiaries. However, if the estate has been left to several nieces and nephews and also a few charities, more correspondence and therefore more work will be required. In cases where a single person has died intestate (without leaving a will), the estate passes to the extended family, who would be many in number and some of whom would have to be traced.
Missing Will or codicil
Usually, it is fairly obvious which is the last Will of the person who died, or the family know that there is no Will. However, if a document is thought to be missing, every realistic attempt must be made to find it and the Probate Registrar will require a full explanation of its absence and the efforts made to find it. John Bays and Co will prepare the non-standard documents required in this scenario but delay and additional expense should be expected.
Assets or domicile or beneficiaries overseas
John Bays & Co only advises on English law and we usually arrange for overseas lawyers to deal with assets overseas or to administer legacies to beneficiaries overseas. However, such assets are included in the inheritance tax calculation and need to be valued.
Trust and Estate tax
If the estate receives income from rent or dividends, or if the house/flat sells for more than the probate value, the estate might have to pay income tax or capital gains tax. In these cases, the estate has to be registered with HMRC and tax returns submitted, which involves additional work.
NB please note that this list is not intended to be exhaustive
If John Bays & Co are the Executors
In cases where John Bays & Co are the Executors, then our firm has the responsibility to oversee every aspect of the administration and also carry out work which is normally undertaken by a family member such as arranging the funeral and clearing the house. In these cases, a partner in the firm will take overall responsibility and may delegate the majority of the work to another solicitor in the practice. There may be additional costs if John Bays & Co are the Executors.
In addition, there are always expenses (known as disbursements) related to your matter which have to be paid to third parties We pay these on your behalf to ensure a smooth process. The most common disbursements are:
Other expenses may include:
If there is a house or flat to be sold, the expenses usually include:
Standard letters or emails sent by us are charges at 1/10 of the hourly rate. Similarly, a standard telephone call is charged at the same rate. We do not charge for reading the standard letters/emails that we receive. For non-standard correspondence or preparation of documents or meeting with you, we charge at the hourly rate for the time spent.
A married man, who dies intestate and leaves as his only asset a single insurance policy worth less than £150,000.00. His widow is entitled to take out the grant and to receive the money from the policy. Our charges will be £950.00 plus VAT to obtain the grant and submit it to the insurance company and receive and disburse the proceeds.
A widower, who leaves his estate between his two adult children. The estate consists of the former family house, a few Santander or former Halifax shares, and three bank accounts in different banks and is less than £650,000.00. The probate fees will be in the region of £3,000.00 plus VAT and disbursements.
A single lady who leaves her estate between her ten nieces and nephews and appoints John Bays & Co as the Executors. None of the family members are local and they do not involve themselves in the administration. The estate consists of her house, a large portfolio of shares and several bank accounts and is well in excess of the £325.000.00 inheritance tax threshold. In this case inheritance tax will be payable and there are more beneficiaries and asset holders to correspond with. John Bays and Co have the responsibility to oversee every aspect of the administration and also carry out work which is normally undertaken by a family member such as arranging the funeral and clearing the house. In this case, the fees will be in the region of £8,500.00 plus VAT and disbursements.
Payment on account: we may need to request a payment on account to cover the increased probate court fees.
Please note that the examples above are for guidance only. We will always provide you with individual costs information and a copy of our terms and conditions of business.