Probate Pricing Information

Obtaining a grant of probate and dealing with the administration of an estate

We can help through this difficult process by obtaining the Grant of Probate on your behalf, including compliance with the requirements of H M Revenue & Customs in relation to inheritance tax. We will also deal with the collection and distribution of assets. We have 10 members of the team who may work on this matter for you. Regardless of who works on your matter, they will be supervised by one of the three partners in the team, Andrew Jenkins, Anna Wensley Stock or Alan Ciechan. Details of their experience and that of the other members of the team who may be involved can be found by clicking on their name below:
Between us we have the knowledge and experience to be able to deal with the administration of relatively straightforward estates right up to the most complex and we have the specialist ability to deal with estates that include agricultural or business property, complex business structures and partnership interests. We are also very used to liaising with foreign lawyers in dealing with land and other assets located outside of the United Kingdom.
As we charge by reference to the amount of time we spend on the work we do and the hourly charging rate of the team member who carries out the work, the exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the estate. We will always provide a bespoke service according to the requirements of our client as well as the circumstances of the estate.
If there is just one beneficiary of the estate and a relatively small number of assets (such as a house, bank accounts, and maybe a few shareholdings) and there is no inheritance tax liability, the time that is involved and therefore the costs will be at the lower end of the range. If there are many beneficiaries, or if complicated assets are involved, and especially if inheritance tax issues need to be dealt with, the costs will be correspondingly higher to reflect the greater amount of time that will have to be spent, and the greater experience of team member or members who will be involved.
At the beginning of any estate administration, as soon as we have information as to what assets are in the estate, the terms of the Will, or lack of one, and any other relevant factors, we will provide and discuss with you a detailed estimate of the likely cost involved in obtaining the grant of probate and dealing with the administration.
By way of illustration we provide below two examples of our charges in different circumstances. The first example is probably the most straightforward situation that we would normally become involved in and therefore the lowest price charge that we would normally expect to make.
The first example applies where:
  • there is a valid Will
  • there is no more than one house or flat in the estate
  • there are no more than four bank or building society accounts
  • there are no other investments
  • there are no more than two or three beneficiaries who between them share the whole estate
  • there are no disputes between the beneficiaries in relation to the division of the assets – if disputes arise this is almost certainly going to lead to an increase in costs
  • there is no inheritance tax payable on the estate and the executors do not need to submit a full account of the estate to H M Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”)
  • there are no claims against the estate
In a case of this kind we anticipate that the administration of the estate, including obtaining the Grant of Probate, collecting in the assets and distributing them between the beneficiaries will take between 7 and 10 hours at £200 per hour (exclusive of VAT). The total costs are therefore estimated at between £2,100 and £2,800, including VAT at 20%.
Included in this fee are the “disbursements” referred to below, which are likely to arise. Disbursements are costs that are payable to third parties such as fees payable to the Court when the Grant of Probate is applied for. We normally handle the payment of disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.
  • Probate application fee of £155
  • £7 for each executor who is required to swear the Executors' Oath that each executor has to make
  • A bankruptcy search that is made against each beneficiary of £2 per beneficiary
  • £100 for a notice to be placed in the London Gazette to protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors
  • £130 for a notice in a local newspaper which also helps to protect against unexpected claims.
It is sometimes possible that other fees may arise such as fees payable to a surveyor or estate agent if a formal valuation of a house is needed to comply with H M Revenue & Customs’ rules but this is unlikely to be necessary in this example. The above fee does not include expenses of this kind.
The above fee also does not include the following matters which can be dealt with if required but an additional fee would be involved:
  • dealing with the sale and transfer of any house or flat in the estate
  • dealing with the pre-death income and capital gains tax affairs of the deceased if these are not up to date.
Usually the administration of estates of this kind might take up to 6 months to be completed. Obtaining the Grant might take up to 3 months in a case of this kind and the collection and distribution of assets of the estate which follows the issue of the Grant of Probate would normally take a similar amount of time.
The second example applies to the case where there is significantly more complexity in terms of the number and nature of the assets and with the values being sufficiently higher that there is an inheritance tax liability on the estate. There might, for example, be a reasonably large portfolio of investments to be administered – but not substantial land or business holdings which would take the work to a much more complex level. In a case such as this case the costs are increased partly by there being more assets to be dealt with and valued but largely by the time that has to go into preparing the detailed account of the estate that has to be submitted to HMRC, assisting the executors in funding the inheritance tax payments that have to be made and generally dealing with HMRC over the inheritance tax issues. Normally a significant amount of the overall inheritance tax has to be paid when the application for the Grant of Probate is made which, depending on the circumstances, can sometimes cause difficulties.
In such a case we handle the entire preparation of the HMRC Inheritance Tax account. This will usually mean that obtaining the Grant of Probate takes longer and that the distribution of the estate can also be held up, while HMRC investigates the values that the executors have placed on the assets. This may be the case, for example, where an asset such as a house is not being sold so that its value in the open market is not being tested.
In a case such as this we would anticipate that the entire administration of the estate would take between 30 and 60 hours at £200 – £260 per hour. The range of fees that might apply will therefore typically be £7,200 - £18,720 including VAT at 20%. The exact fee will depend predominantly upon or one or more of the following factors:
  • the number of assets to be valued and administered
  • any complexity in realising assets
  • the value of the assets
  • the requirements of the Will in relation to dealing with household and personal possessions
  • the number and nature of gifts contained in the Will
  • whether any of the beneficiaries are children or under any kind of disability
  • the size of the Inheritance Tax liability.
As in the first example above, disbursements are included in this fee as follows:
  • Probate application fee of £155
  • £7 for each executor for the swearing of the Executor’s Oath
  • Bankruptcy Search of £2 per beneficiary
  • £100 for a notice placed in the London Gazette to protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors
  • £130 for an advertisement in a local newspaper which is also to protect against unexpected claims.
In a case such as this, where the executors have to submit to HMRC valuations of assets that it is proper for the executors to rely on, it is likely that other fees will arise such as fees payable to a surveyor or estate agent for a formal valuation of a house. Fees of this kind are not included in the above estimates.
Because of the time in preparing the HMRC account of the estate and then dealing with HMRC on matters arising, estates of this type are usually dealt with within 9 to 12 months. Obtaining the Grant might take 4 to 5 months in a case of this kind. If HMRC do decide to carry out a full investigation into values that can in extreme circumstances hold up finalisation of the estate by up to another year but in the sort of estate that is being considered here, that is unlikely to arise.
The second example assumes that there is a valid Will. If there is no Will this will almost certainly lead to additional costs that could range significantly depending on the circumstances. For example, the lack of a Will means that investigations need to be made as to whether there may in fact be a Will that is not known about and, once it is clear that there is no Will, tracing the members of the family who are entitled to share in the estate may not always be straightforward. Where any complications of this nature exist, we will be able to give a more accurate quote once we have more information.
The fee stated above does not include the following matters which can be dealt with if required but will involve an additional fee:
  • dealing with the sale or transfer of any house or flat in the estate
  • dealing with the pre-death income and capital gains tax affairs of the deceased if these are not up to date.