Some law firms charge a percentage of the value of the overall estate and for time spent on files. At Purely Probate our charging rates are simpler, lower and more transparent.
We have two methods for charging on probate files: the first is a fixed-fee quotation and the second is on a time-recorded basis. If the file is charged on a time record basis we tell you the amount of time we anticipate we will spend.
For fixed-fee quotations, we calculate how much time we anticipate we will spend on your file. We consider several factors including: whether the estate is taxable; if the deceased made gifts of more than £3,000 pa in the last 7 years; the number of legacies and residuary beneficiaries; the number of investments, and whether the deceased owned any property.
The overall size of the estate is considered but is not of itself a major factor.
When we have worked out how much time we are likely to spend, we will add a small contingency to cover unexpected developments, then calculate our costs at the hourly rates of £230 to £250 per hour for solicitors, and between £160 to £200 per hour for Legal executives and support staff. All fees are subject to VAT. We aim to save our clients’ money by using paralegals and support staff (who have relevant experience and training) for less technical elements of the work, and solicitors or legal executives who specialise in private client work where their expertise is needed. We also include some time for general administration – carrying out ID checks, opening a bank account, etc
For a time-recorded matter, we use the same process to calculate how long we are likely to take. For example, we may decide that this probate matter will take between 7 and 10 hours to complete, which at a merged rate of £230.00 per hour would be between £1,610.00 to £2,300.00 plus VAT.
We sometimes offer our clients a choice of time recording or fixed price, but will not offer this if an estate is too complex, or there are too many unknown factors xxxx. Even if we are charging on a time recorded basis, we estimate the time we anticipate we will take to complete the work and will inform the client if this is likely to be exceeded.
Examples of fees charged
We assist with obtaining a grant of probate only. The clients provide the valuations of assets, sell the assets once probate is granted and distribute them in accordance with the terms of the Will. The typical charge is £1,000 for a non taxable estate, and £1,500 for a taxable estate.
We provide quotations where we are administering the estate, not just completing the inheritance tax applications.
Foreign Probates: fees charged
These are normally cases where the deceased did not live in the UK but had assets in the UK when he/she died.
A typical fee is £2,000
All charges other than disbursements are subject to VAT at 20%.
The disbursements are typically:
- the probate fee: £273 plus £1.50 for each extra copy of the grant of probate required
- bankruptcy searches: £2 each
- ID checks – see extras
- fees for getting office copy entries from the land registry: £3 each
- Fees for valuation of assets and selling shares: various
We use an independent service to carry out ID searches – this saves our clients having to produce original passports etc. We charge £5 plus VAT per search
Foreign currency transfers. If our clients agree we can use a currency exchange service, which gives better exchange rates than the banks. We charge £50 plus VAT to use the service; the banks will deduct their own charges, normally around £15 per transfer.
The services that are included in the price and likely timescales for key stages.
Valuing the known assets of the estate and making reasonable enquiries into other assets owned by the deceased;
Ascertaining any liabilities of the estate and settling these once funds are available;
Preparing the paperwork required for an application for a Grant to the estate including preparing the inheritance tax return and corresponding with HMRC regarding the payment of tax;
Encashing the assets in the estate or transferring them to the beneficiaries;
Preparation of full, detailed accounts showing the estate transactions;
Completing due diligence checks for beneficiaries, if required, and contacting them regarding the progress of the administration;
Distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will;
Advice on how to safeguard your position as executor, including arranging statutory notices if required
In the case of a simple probate where we can get valuations of all assets quickly, we may be able to apply for probate within 3-4 weeks of the original instruction. The probate registry is unpredictable and times to turn round applications for a grant vary. Once we have the grant it will then take at least 6 weeks to sell the assets and distribute to beneficiaries and can be much more if for example, a property takes time to sell. If inheritance tax is payable, HMRC advises that executors should expect them to take at least until the anniversary of the death to confirm that all the tax has been paid.
If a matter is urgent (e.g. because of a property sale) we will take whatever steps we can to speed up the process.
We take your instructions, prepare draft Wills for approval and take you through the process of correctly signing the Wills.
For simple single Wills, we charge from £350 plus VAT, for couples from £450 plus VAT. If there is a property trust within the Wills we charge £725 plus VAT. If the Will is more complex, the person making the Will is of high net worth (and therefore the tax implication and advice we can provide can make a significant difference), or the clients have more complicated requirements we will charge for time spent, but we will provide an estimate before proceeding.
We monitor our work in progress. Where we have quoted on a time record basis we will advise our clients if the time spent is likely to exceed our estimate.
Fixed price or time record?
With fixed cost, we will build a contingency into our quote. We will also exclude certain things, which will be set out in our client care letter. For example, we exclude the time spent responding to HMRC if it decides to investigate the amount of inheritance tax due.
We are very happy to discuss each option with you. Many clients prefer the certainty of a fixed fee.
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