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How we guide and support Personal Representatives through an often complex process

Estate Administration

Administering the estate of a loved one can be a daunting prospect, at what may already be an emotionally challenging time.

With our sympathetic approach and technical expertise, we aim to ease the burden by assisting and guiding you through what can otherwise be a time consuming, stressful and complex process.  We ensure the estate is administered sensitively and efficiently.

Whilst it is possible to administer an estate without professional advice, people often find it more time consuming and more complicated than they originally anticipated.

Whether an estate is relatively straightforward or more complex, we are here to assist the personal representatives (known as executors if there is a Will and administrators if there is no Will) in fulfilling their role.  Their role carries considerable responsibility and personal liability, so they must ensure the estate is administered correctly.  Submitting incorrect information to HMRC can result in financial penalties or interest being charged.

How we can help

Obtaining grants of representation (probate)

Collating all information required and preparing and submitting the necessary inheritance tax account and grant application to HMRC and the Probate Registry.

Inheritance tax

Advising on and preparing inheritance tax account to claim reliefs and exemptions such as business or agricultural relief, national heritage assets or gifts out of income.

Role and responsibilities of personal representatives

Advising executors or administrators on the legal, administrative and tax requirements of estate administration and potential personal liability for errors.

Administering cross-border estates

Providing advice on issues such as domicile, inheritance tax and double taxation/unilateral relief, making applications to re-seal Grants (or overseas equivalent) and working with overseas lawyers to advise on the applicability of Wills or intestacy in the different jurisdictions where assets are held (including choice of law provisions) and administering and distributing the estate accordingly.

Intestacy

Providing advice on steps that can be taken to check for a Will, the rules of intestacy and steps to identify and locate all beneficiaries.

Deeds of Variation

Advising beneficiaries on redirection of inherited assets (often for tax efficiency) and drafting associated deeds of variation.

Collating all information required and preparing and submitting the necessary inheritance tax account and grant application to HMRC and the Probate Registry.

Advising on and preparing inheritance tax account to claim reliefs and exemptions such as business or agricultural relief, national heritage assets or gifts out of income.

Advising executors or administrators on the legal, administrative and tax requirements of estate administration and potential personal liability for errors.

Providing advice on issues such as domicile, inheritance tax and double taxation/unilateral relief, making applications to re-seal Grants (or overseas equivalent) and working with overseas lawyers to advise on the applicability of Wills or intestacy in the different jurisdictions where assets are held (including choice of law provisions) and administering and distributing the estate accordingly.

Providing advice on steps that can be taken to check for a Will, the rules of intestacy and steps to identify and locate all beneficiaries.

Advising beneficiaries on redirection of inherited assets (often for tax efficiency) and drafting associated deeds of variation.

Testimonials
Testimonials

“My sister and I employed Clare Harris and she has been faultless in everything she has done for us. Her knowledge of the sector is first class. She is friendly, understanding, responsive, tactful and delivers wonderful advice in a timely manner. She is very very good. I am very glad that we employed her and I would recommend her to anyone who needs advice in her sector.”

(Private Client)

Fees

In accordance with SRA Transparency Rules 2018, we have provided information on our approach to fees and service for Probate matters below.

For information about other areas of work not covered by the SRA Transparency Rules 2018 please get in touch.

A dedicated and experienced member of our Wealth Preservation team will help you through this difficult process.  All members of our team advise on or support the estate administration process and Head of Wealth Preservation, Clare Harris, will have overall responsibility for all matters. You can review the skills and expertise of the team here.

The firm and its lawyers are regulated by an independent regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

 

Legal fees

We appreciate the circumstances and requirements for each estate are unique.  The following is a guide only and we will provide a personalised estimate for fees and timescales on each new matter before starting any work.

Our fees cover an initial meeting with the family and/or executors, valuing the estate, applying for the grant (including submitting the inheritance tax account), collecting and distributing the assets.  Our fees are usually based solely on the amount of time spent administering an estate and we do not charge an additional value element.  We roughly divide estates into three grades of complexity: low, medium and high.  Where we have indicated that VAT applies this is at the rate of 20%, current as of 3 May 2022.

Low Complexity

We estimate our total costs to be between £5,650 – £23,230 (plus VAT).  We anticipate this will take between 20 and 88 hours of work, at a current (2022/23) hourly rate of between £175 – £495 per hour, plus VAT.  The exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter.  For example, if there is one executor, one beneficiary and no property, costs will be at the lower end of the range.  If there are multiple executors, multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, costs will be at the higher end. We will handle the full process for you.  A low complexity estate might be one where:

  • there is a valid Will
  • all the assets are in the UK
  • there is no more than one property
  • there are no gifts of money or specific items
  • there are bank or building society accounts with no more than 3 financial institutions
  • there are no other intangible assets
  • there are no more than 4 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
  • an income tax return is not needed
  • there are no claims made against the estate

Medium Complexity

We estimate our total costs to be between £12,375 – £55,000 (plus VAT).  We anticipate this will take between 45 and 200 hours of work, at a current (2022/23) hourly rate of between £275 – £495 per hour, plus VAT.  Again, the exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter and we will handle the full process for you.  In these estates typical features may include:

  • there could be a Will, or the estate could be intestate
  • all of the assets are in the UK
  • the deceased may have made lifetime gifts in excess of the annual allowances
  • there could be inheritance tax payable and a full inheritance tax account is required
  • the estate comprises stock exchange investments
  • there are gifts in the Will of money or specific items
  • there may be more than 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 might be two properties
  • income tax returns up to the date of death and for the estate administration period might be required
  • the Will might comprise an ongoing trust
  • there are no claims made against the estate

High Complexity

We estimate our total costs to be between £39,875 to £195,000 plus VAT (and in some cases more).  We anticipate this will take between 145 and 550 hours of work (and could be more), at a current (2022/23) hourly rate of between £275 – £495 per hour, plus VAT.  Again, the exact costs will depend on the individual circumstances and we will handle the full process for you.  It may be necessary to involve experts to deal with specific issues e.g. an accountant to value a business.  Estates such as this will often have more than one of the following features:

  • the estate will be subject to inheritance tax
  • the Will might contain one or more trust arrangements
  • there could be more than one property
  • there might be business and/or agricultural property
  • there are assets in one or more overseas jurisdictions
  • there might be Heritage Property
  • there might be valuable collections of art or antiques
  • there might be contentious issues such as a disputed Will or an Inheritance Act claim
  • there might be disputes between beneficiaries
  • there might be family circumstances that require careful handling such as second marriages and step families
  • there might be domicile issues concerning the deceased or their spouse
  • there might be claims against the estate

For some estates we may be able to offer a range of pricing options, including charging on a fixed fee basis, percentage by value or on a cap and collar basis.  We will consider whether these options are suitable on a case by case basis.

The following additional costs or disbursements will be payable on most estates:

  • Probate Registry fee – £273
  • Fee for office copies of the grant – £1.50 for each copy (the number required will depend on the number/range of assets)
  • Bankruptcy searches – £2 plus VAT per search
  • Consumer bank account checks – £2.50 plus VAT per search

We are required to undertake a bankruptcy search and account check prior to making a distribution to a beneficiary.

Potential additional disbursements include:

  • Certainty Will search – £95 plus VAT
  • Asset search undertaken by Estatesearch – £155 plus VAT
  • Land Registry search fee (if there is a property) – £3 plus VAT
  • Section 27 Trustee Act Statutory advertisements in the London Gazette and local newspaper – approximately £250 plus VAT – protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors – prices may vary according to the publication
  • Accountants’ fees for dealing with income tax up to the date of death and sometimes during the estate administration period.
  • Valuers’ fees for valuing assets such as contents of a property, property itself or land, shares, business assets, etc.

These are some of the most common additional disbursements, but the list is not comprehensive.  The additional disbursements necessary will vary depending on the circumstances of an estate.

The disbursement prices shown are correct at 3 May 2022 but are subject to change by the organisations concerned.

How quickly an estate can be dealt with will depend on many factors including how quickly requests for information are dealt with and the involvement of third parties such as accountants, the DWP and HMRC.

On average, estates that fall within the low complexity range set out above are dealt with within 6-12 months from receiving full instructions. Typically, taking initial instructions, valuing the estate and pre-grant administration takes 2-4 months. Submitting the application and obtaining the grant of probate can take between 8-12 weeks. Post- grant administration and distribution of the estate then follows, which normally takes a further 3–6 months. For medium or high complexity estates the timeframe is likely to be considerably longer and often takes more than a year. We will provide you with a bespoke timescale once we know more about the estate.




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      By completing and submitting this form, you consent to Greenwoods Legal LLP processing your personal data to provide you with the email update services you have selected and any other materials and information about our services that Greenwoods Legal LLP reasonably believes will be of interest to you. You are free to withdraw your consent at any time by emailing mailinglists@greenwoods.co.uk