Probate involves dealing with someone’s estate when they pass away.
An application to the Court will sometimes be required to carry out someone’s wishes in their Will. This is referred to as a ‘Grant of Representation’ where there is a Will or ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’ (‘Grant’) where there is no Will.
An Administrator will need to be appointed where there is no Will, if the Will is invalid or where it does not specify an Executor.
The Grant gives the persons named as Executors in the Will or the Administrators the legal authority to administer the estate by collecting in the assets and dividing them between the beneficiaries.
Where the estate is small or where assets including shares, money, land and property are jointly owned they will automatically pass to the survivor and a Grant will not be required.
The process and legal requirements involved in administering someone’s estate can be quite daunting, time consuming and confusing. Tiger Law has a dedicated team of legal advisors who are particularly experienced in dealing with both simple and complex cases. Our experts are skilled at handling all aspects of the probate process. They understand that it is a difficult time and will advise you sensitively and provide the support you need to reduce the administrative burden.
Full details about our legal advisors’ qualifications and experience can be found on their profile pages on our website (meet the team link). Our legal advisors are supported by trainee solicitors, paralegals and support staff who are happy to help.
There are several stages involved in dealing with someone’s estate. We will handle all aspects of the estate administration process at a fair price.
Key Stages of Probate
1. Ascertain the assets and liabilities within the estate – this involves contacting all the asset holders, advising them of the death and requesting information about the assets and liabilities that form part of the estate. We will make contact with bank, building societies, utility companies, pension providers, stockbrokers, life assurance companies, estate agents to obtain property valuations. We will contact insurance companies to ensure that assets remain protected.
2. Prepare the relevant Inheritance Tax forms, settle Inheritance Tax and submit application for Grant. The current Inheritance Tax threshold is £325,000. If the estate is not subject to Inheritance Tax we will complete the Inheritance Tax Return (form IHT205). If the estate is over the Inheritance Tax threshold, we will complete the Inheritance Tax Account (form IHT400) and arrange to settle any Inheritance Tax due to HM Revenue & Customs (‘HMRC’). We Will deal with HMRC if there are any further requests for information or queries in relation to the calculations. Once approved, HMRC issues a stamped summary of the tax calculated and paid. We will prepare a Statement of Truth for the Executor or Administrator to sign. We will then submit the application for the Grant to the Probate Registry. We will deal with the Probate Registry in relation to any queries or requisitions.
3. Receive Grant, notify asset holders, collect in assets and settle liabilities – We will send the Grant to the Executor or Administrator and contact all to the asset holders to collect in the assets and pay any liabilities from the funds received. When necessary we will place statutory notices in the newspaper allowing creditors or beneficiaries wishing to make a claim 2 months to come forward.
4. Deal with income tax affairs up to the date of death and throughout the period of administration.
5. Prepare Estate Accounts – We will prepare estate accounts detailing how moneys and other assets are to be distributed to the beneficiaries. We will carry out bankruptcy searches before payments are made to beneficiaries. The estate accounts will need to be approved by the Executor or Administrator. Once approved and all the liabilities have been settled, we will arrange for estate funds to be distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will.
For dealing with straightforward Grant only applications with form IHT205 we charge a fixed fee of £800 plus VAT (which is currently 20%).
For dealing with Grant only applications for taxable estates with form IHT400 we charge a fixed fee of £2,500 plus VAT.
For dealing with Stages 1 – 5 above in the administration of an estate, our fees are calculated based on the actual work that we do in accordance with your instructions. Every estate is different and there are a number of factors that may increase our fee estimate. Where this is likely to occur, we will provide you with a clear estimate of any extra costs immediately.
Our current hourly rates are as follows: –
Partners £300 plus VAT
Solicitors and employment consultants £225 – 275 plus VAT
Junior fee earners and trainees – £190 plus VAT
Legal Assistants and paralegals £125 – £175 plus VAT
Disbursements are payments that we make to third parties on your behalf throughout the administration of the estate.
Such payments are exclusive of VAT and include the following:-
Probate Court Fee – £155
Additional sealed copy of the Grant – £1.50 per copy
Advert in Newspaper (if required) – variable
HM Land Registry fees for copy of legal title – £3.00
Bankruptcy searches – £2.00 per name
As a guide, it usually takes on average about 3 months to gather the relevant information in relation to the assets and liabilities of the estate and to obtain the Grant from the date of instructions as set out above in Stages 1 – 2.
Upon receipt of the Grant it is likely to take a further 2 months to collect in the assets and settle liabilities as set out in Stage 3 above. This will depend on the type of assets in the estate.
To deal with income tax affairs and to carry out distributions as set out in Stages 4 – 5 above this may take a further 3 months.
There are a number of factors that could affect the time taken to complete the estate administration. The length of time given is only a guide. It may take a shorter or longer period of time to deal with your estate. We will advise you accordingly as matters progress.
Additional Services Not Included In Our Fee Estimate
Deeds of Variation – a Deed of Variation may be suitable in circumstances where you have inherited from an estate and you wish to redirect this gift to another beneficiary. Separate charges will apply.
Conveyancing – if the estate includes residential property that needs to be sold, our conveyancing team will be happy to provide a separate fixed fee estimate for the sale of the property.
Trusts – there are different types of Trusts that could be used to protect your inheritance or your estate. If separate advice is required as it relates to setting up a Trust or Trust administration, separate charges will apply.
Claims and contentious probate – inheritance disputes could arise in relation to the validity of the Will, claims for reasonable financial provision from the estate. Separate charges will apply.
Independent Financial Advice – in some cases advice will be required when dealing with tax affairs of the deceased. We are closely connected to experts who could you with working through the complexities of taxation. Separate charges will apply.