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Probate and estate administration

When you lose someone close to you, it is a difficult time and dealing with the paperwork to apply for probate can seem daunting. Our probate team can help and guide you through the process of administering an estate including attending to any legal requirements.

Our probate team are here to:-

  • help administer any size of estate, from the simple to the very complex;
  • handle all the administration, or just part if you want to do some of the work yourself;
  • complete and submit the probate and inheritance tax return to cover the legal requirements and ensure the correct tax is paid;
  • help you if your loved one dies without a will

"Very understanding and helpful in our sad time, nothing was too much trouble."

Alan Shadbolt

Our dedicated team have over 60 years collective experience know that no two estates are the same. Once we have spoken to you and understand the work required, we can advise you on the type of service that may best suit you and provide a detailed plan of the work to be undertaken and provide a fee estimate in advance.  As we advise on probate and estate administration matters all day, every day, we encounter very few situations that we have not seen before and we can act quickly to ensure the estate progresses without delay.

FAQs

  • What is probate?

    A Grant of probate (where there is a Will) or a Grant of Letters of Administration (where there is no Will) is the legal order issued by the court to enable the executor or administrator to administer the estate in accordance with the Will or laws of intestacy. 

  • When is probate required?

    If the deceased owned a property in their sole name or as tenants-in-common, or held assets with financial institutions typically worth £5,000 or more although some banks and building societies increase their individual thresholds. Probate enables them to close bank accounts, sell shares and sign sale contracts or transfer documents for property.

  • How long does it take to get probate?

    Once the value of the assets and liabilities of the estate are known, the application for probate can be made.  If the estate only requires the shorter IHT205 HMRC form, it can be sent direct to the probate court and the grant is usually issued in 3-4 weeks, although there may be delays in the current circumstances.  If the full IHT400 HMRC form is required, this together with any initial inheritance tax due must be sent to HMRC first and a receipt obtained which can add a further 4-5 weeks onto the timescale.

"I would like to say a big thank you to both Rachael Kell and Julie Bell for their excellent service on two different matters."

Mike England

Probate pricing transparency – How much will it cost?

Wright Hassall offer a range of fixed fee and time-based services depending on the activities required.

Fixed fee only services – where a full IHT return is not needed

  • Obtaining a Grant of Probate (IHT205 form) - £995 plus VAT
  • Obtaining a Grant of Probate claiming a double nil rate band (IHT205 and IHT217) - £1,150 plus VAT

Time based services - Fees are based on hourly rates (excluding VAT) which range from £155 to £200 depending on the seniority and experience of the individual advising.

NB: This fee scale is a guide only. We will send you a questionnaire to complete so we can establish how much work will be involved in administering the estate before giving you an accurate estimate. In most situations, we are able to offer you the choice of a time based estimate range or a fixed rate quote.

  • Obtaining a Grant of Probate where a full IHT return is due but no tax is payable (IHT400) - £2,000 to £3,000 plus VAT
  • Obtaining a Grant of probate where a full IHT return is due and tax is payable (IHT400) - £2,400 to £4,000 plus VAT
  • Full estate administration – based on simple estate example – in the region of £3,000 to £5,000 plus VAT
  • Full estate administration – based on complex estate example – in the region of £6,000 to £12,000 plus VAT

Simple estate example – (could include the following)

Valid Will with 1-2 executors acting Up to 5 pecuniary legacies
Up to 5 residuary beneficiaries No trusts/disputes or claims
Up to 8 bank/building society/liquid assets Up to 1 property
Up to 3 shareholdings No inheritance tax to pay

HMRC shorter return (IHT205) required

 


Complex estate example – (could include the following)

Valid will with up to 4 executors Straightforward intestacy position
Over 5 pecuniary legacies Over 5 residuary beneficiaries
Trust in the will or a connected lifetime trust              Minor beneficiaries
Multiple cash assets 1 or more property
Investment portfolio/ number of shareholdings  
HMRC full return (form IHT400) required Inheritance tax payable

Income tax returns to be completed

 

Complex estate accounts/devolution

 

 

Matters in all estate administrations which may give rise to additional costs

  • No Will (intestacy) or proving a missing or damaged will Registering the death or arranging the funeral
  • Large number of individual shareholdings or managed portfolios
  • Arranging property insurance and managing the utility accounts until a property is sold
  • Complex inheritance tax situations, including claims for agricultural or business assets
  • Missing beneficiaries
  • Disputes between executors and/or beneficiaries

 

Disbursements – third party costs which may by incurred during the administration (all figures inclusive of VAT if applicable)

Probate Court fees (£155) and office copies (£1.50 per copy) Will and Financial asset searches (£136.80 and £186)

Bankruptcy searches (£2.40 for UK, £100 estimated for overseas) Statutory notices (£170 estimated)

Dependent on the nature of the estate there may also be valuation fees, estate agents commission and conveyancing costs, and any taxes payable to HMRC in the estate. For more information on taxes, please see the Gov.UK website.

Timescales – how long will it take?

For our Obtaining the Grant of Probate services, we would expect the executors to provide us with all valuations of the estate assets and liabilities and we would expect to draft the papers for signing and apply in 2-3 weeks following receipt of the information. The Grant of Probate should issue 3-4 weeks after that if a full IHT return is not required, or if a full return is required, the time to issue should be 6-8 weeks, subject to Probate Court and HMRC turnarounds.

For full estate administrations, where we will notify companies and beneficiaries,

and arrange valuation of the assets and liabilities, we would expect to be able to apply in 4-10 weeks depending on the complexity of assets. The issue of the Grant would then be as detailed above, subject to making any arrangements for payment of inheritance tax required.

Once the Grant of Probate is issued, we would arrange to collect in the assets, pay any liabilities and expenses, pay any legacies and distribute the estate. This can take between 2-4 months for simple estates and can take between 6-18 months for more complex estates where delays can be encountered through agreeing the inheritance tax position, selling the property, dealing with the investments, and settling the income and capital gains tax position.

A full set of estate accounts will be produced for the executor’s approval at the end of the administration before final distribution which will be sent to the residuary beneficiaries when making final distributions.

Examples of full administrations undertaken Simple estates

For an estate valued at £350,000 passing to two residuary beneficiaries which included one property and seven bank accounts we charged an administration fee of £3,100 plus VAT.

For an estate valued at £480,000 which had six pecuniary legacies and passed to one residuary beneficiary and included, one property, nine bank accounts, bonds and policies, and one shareholding, we charged an administration fee of £5,400 plus VAT.

Complex estates

For an estate valued at £600,000 with no inheritance tax due which passed to one pecuniary legacy, a mixture of twenty-five charitable and non-charitable residuary beneficiaries in unequal shares and included one property and nine bank accounts and policies, we charged an administration fee of £7,500 plus VAT

For an estate valued at £500,000 which was subject to inheritance tax, had seven pecuniary legacies and passed to three residuary beneficiaries and included one property, four bank accounts and eight investment holdings we charged an administration fee of £9,200 plus VAT.

For an estate valued at £1,000,000 which was subject to inheritance tax, had three

pecuniary legacies and two residuary beneficiaries and included two properties, 5 accounts, nine investment holdings, claims for agricultural and business property relief and a partial transferrable nil rate band we charged an administration fee of £12,300 plus VAT.

Quality assured: Wright Hassall is Lexcel accredited, the Law Society’s legal practice quality mark for practice management and client care.

The details

* Grant of probate

Work involved Timescales
Review of the will and executor’s duties At initial meeting/1 week
Review of the assets and liabilities/ Consider any appropriate nil rate bands, allowances and exemptions and gifts affecting the inheritance tax position / Prepare IHT400 and statement of truth, calculate any tax owed,  advise on timings and options for payment 2-3 weeks from when information received from executor
Arrange for signing of inheritance tax forms and statement of truth/ Submission of IHT400 and request receipt for payment of IHT 1-2 weeks dependent on meeting arrangements
Submit application to the Probate Court, with tax receipt to obtain the Grant of Probate 3-4 weeks after above
Issue of the Grant of Probate by Probate Court and requisite number of office copies to pass to executors to collect and distribute the assets of the estate Currently 6-8 weeks from submission (would usually be 2-3 weeks)
Consider IHT loss relief claims on assets sold by executors, report any corrective figures to HMRC, deal with any HMRC queries and obtain IHT clearance 2-3 months once details provided by executors

* Full estate administration

Work involved Timescales
Review of the will and executor’s duties At initial meeting/1 week
Prepare and submit statutory notices to claimants in the London Gazette and local press and undertake Will and asset searches for later Wills or unknown assets in the deceased’s name. Review of assets and liabilities and obtain valuations 3-6 weeks depending on assets
Contact all beneficiaries and advise them of their entitlement 3 weeks unless later contact agreed with executor
Consider any transferable nil rate band etc.   4-6 weeks once asset details known
Prepare the relevant tax forms (IHT205 or IHT400) and provide Statement of Affairs to executor/ Calculate any tax owed, advise on timings and options for payment   5-8 weeks depending on asset information received
Arrange for signing of IHT papers and statement of truth   1-2 weeks after above
Pay any IHT due, submit the IHT form and obtain receipt from HMRC   4-6 weeks after above
Apply to the Probate court to obtain Grant of Probate and requisite number of office copies   Currently 6-8 weeks after above (would usually be 2-3 weeks)
Collect assets, pay outstanding liabilities, reimburse Executors’ expenses and pay legacies Up to 8-10 weeks from issue of Grant
Send a Beneficiary Statement of Affairs to the residuary beneficiaries and correspond with executors and beneficiaries regarding the transfer of assets and distribution of the estate. Up to 8-10 weeks from issue of Grant
Consider IHT loss relief claim on assets sold by executors, report any corrective figures to HMRC, deal with any HMRC queries or additional payments including income tax and capital gains tax and obtain IHT clearance. Depending on realisation of assets timescales, e.g. sale of property
Prepare estate accounts for executor approval, pay balance to beneficiaries and prepare tax deduction certificates 2-4 weeks of administration being complete

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