Probate is the term generally applied when a person dies, as to the legal method of collecting and distributing their estate (i.e. home/car/monies etc) in accordance with legal requirements. If a person dies having made a will then the person authorised by the will (the executor) will have that legal responsibility. If no will has been made, the deceased is said to have died intestate and the authority to distribute the estate is decided according to the general law of England and Wales. Except in specified cases i.e. "Small Estates", the executor/administrator will need to apply to the Probate Registry for a grant authorising them to administer the deceased's estate.
Lincoln Watts & Leeding (LWL) are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Under the SRA Transparency Rules all such legal practices are required to publish information on prices and services in respect of specific types of legal work undertaken by them – including Probate work.
Our hourly charging rate is £250 plus VAT. We will endeavour if possible at the outset of the matter to provide a general overall estimate of charges although this may not always be possible until the full value and nature of the estate assets is known.
A straight forward Probate (IHT205 – non-taxable Estate) takes between 10 – 14 hours (£2500 - £3500 plus VAT plus disbursements) to administer.
If it is at taxable estate (IHT400) then you are often looking at 14 – 20 hours work £3500 - £5000 plus VAT plus disbursements) to administer.
On top of this there will be a number of disbursements (i.e. out of pocket expenses) to be paid. A typical transaction would include the following.
- Probate Registry Fees - usually £155 + £1.50 for each official copy
- Statutory Identity checks - £6 per person
- Statutory advertisements - approximately £295 + VAT to include newspaper advertisements in the local area
- Swearing Fee £10 per person
- Bankruptcy search fee £2 per beneficiary (we recommend that this is done to protect the Executor(s))
If the administration of the estate includes the sale of a property, there will be a separate conveyancing fee payable. Unlike some other Solicitors we do not charge a higher fee for conducting the conveyancing - please refer to our https://lwlsols.co.uk/conveyancing
Inheritance Tax may be payable on the estate, dependent upon the total value of the deceased's assets and whether any exemptions can be applied. We will be pleased to give you an estimate at the outset of the Tax payable. Please note that HMRC regulations require the Tax to be paid in full before they authorise the issuing of the grant.
Stages of the process
- Take the Executors instructions (appropriate AML checks complied with) and give initial advices on inheritance tax
- Obtain original death certificate
- Obtain and review the original Last Will and Testament of the Deceased or consider position if the Deceased died Intestate
- Identify all assets (property, chattels, shares, bank/building accounts, Premium bonds/ National Savings, Death in service benefit, Pensions, Annuities, life assurance policies – list not exhaustive) and advise of death and obtain date of death valuations
- Identify all debts/liabilities and notify of death
- Once all assets and dates identified – ascertain if a non-taxable or taxable Estate and any potential inheritance tax liability and how this will be funded – funds held in bank accounts or inheritance tax loan?
- Consider Income Tax and Capital Tax liabilities (engage Accountancy Experts etc if required to deal with Self-Assessment Forms)
- Draft relevant HMRC Forms (IHT205 – non taxable estate or IHT400 plus Schedules if a taxable Estate)
- Consider tax free nil rate band and residence nil rate band allowances and their applicability (in particular if gifts made in the 7 years before Deceased death)
- Recommend Statutory Notices are placed in The Gazette to identify any unknown creditors (not mandatory but advisable)
- Complete relevant Probate Forms and advise Probate Practitioners are expected to use the MYHMCTS Online system for applying for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
- Pay Inheritance Tax within 6 months of the date of death (to avoid any penalty interest)
- Apply for Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration once any inheritance tax liability has been settled
- Once in receipt of Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration – call in/ sell assets and notify all beneficiaries/interested parties
- Settle all known debts including any additional inheritance Tax (which may have arisen), income tax or capital gains tax liabilities
- Review Will to check for pecuniary legacies and deal with specific gifts
- Carry our identification checks for all pecuniary and residuary beneficiaries and recommend bankruptcy searches for all pecuniary and residuary beneficiaries to protect the Executor (not mandatory but advisable)
- Once all assets call in, debts settled and legacies paid – review Residuary Beneficiary clause.
- Prepare Estate Accounts for Executors approval (copy to be provided to all residuary beneficiaries as well)
- Once all beneficiaries identified and bankruptcy checks cleared – distribute the estate (after Statutory Notices have expired) in accordance with the terms of the Will or intestacy Provision
- Seek confirmation from the HMRC that the tax position for the Deceased and the administration period has been closed