Sorting out the estate of a friend or family member who has died can be highly complicated, adding extra stress at what is already an emotional time. Our solicitors can step in to help take you through the necessary procedures, allowing you to move on with the grieving process without having to worry about getting to grips with all the legal ins and outs of managing an estate. We will work with you to make sure you understand exactly what is required, so you can feel confident about the process.
Being an executor
If you have been named an executor of a will you will need to apply for a “grant of representation” (also known as a “grant of probate”). This gives you the legal right to administer the deceased’s estate and will act as proof of this when dealing with the deceased’s bank and other institutions. A grant of representation may not always be necessary, depending on the type of assets the deceased owned and the rules of whichever bank or building society they held accounts with. This is something on which we can provide guidance.
It is possible that the person making the will may have named you as one of several executors, meaning you would usually have to work with the other named executors to administer the estate. Alternatively, your loved one may not have left a will, they may have failed to name an executor, or the named executor/s may be unable or unwilling to perform the role. If this happens, you may need to apply for a grant of representation to allow you to take control of dealing with the deceased’s assets.
All of these potential scenarios can be difficult and time consuming to navigate. It is important to understand, once you have taken on the role of executor, you become personally responsible to the beneficiaries of the will for any losses that might occur. Using a solicitor to advise you can not only makes your life easier, but will also allow you the peace of mind that things are being handled in the correct way, protecting yourself and the beneficiaries while ensuring the deceased’s instructions are carried out.
As an executor, you are responsible for establishing the exact assets the deceased owned (both in the UK and worldwide if applicable) and any debts they might have had outstanding, such as a mortgage or unpaid utility bills. Our experienced team of probate lawyers can manage this process for you, including contacting the deceased’s bank and other institutions, notifying beneficiaries of the estate, providing advice about any complex issues, such as trusts or the effect of intestacies and helping you deal with any tax consequences for the estate.
We can also assist in collecting the deceased’s assets, paying their debts and distributing their estate to those named in the will. In instances where there is no will (known as “intestacy”), we can advise you on how to proceed, ensuring that you act in accordance with the relevant rules.
One of the most important issues to get right is any inheritance tax payable on the estate. If inheritance tax is owed, this must be paid either in full or by instalments before a grant of representation will be issued allowing you to move forward with the rest of the administration process. There may also be implications for the beneficiaries’ income tax, so this also needs to be considered. Our team collectively have decades of experience dealing with tax issues, so will be happy to guide you through the relevant issues.
How much will it cost?
As an executor you are likely to incur costs in administering the estate and these can be settled from the funds held in the estate to ensure that you are not out of pocket. The most common costs incurred are as follows:-
- Death certificates
- Inheritance Tax
- Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax
- Probate Registry Fees
- Professional valuation fees
- Search fees
- Advertising for creditors
- HM Land Registry fees
- Solicitor’s fees for advising you and administering the estate
As you will appreciate this is not an exhaustive list, the costs incurred and services required vary depending upon the nature and location of the assets in the estate and the location of the beneficiaries.
Understandably you will want to know how much instructing us is going to cost. Below we have provided a guide to our prices for a full administration service of an estate.
Administration of Estate – full service
Applying for the grant of probate, collecting and distributing the assets and settling liabilities
We offer a full administration of estate service. This means that we will:
- Gather information as to the assets and liabilities of the estate
- Prepare the papers necessary to apply for a Grant of Probate and submit the application
- Publish Statutory Advertisements (if required) and carry out all necessary searches
- Encash or transfer the assets of the estate
- Deal with HM Revenue and Customs in relation to both the personal tax to the date of death and the income tax and any capital gains tax for the administration period.
- Prepare Estate Accounts for approval by you.
- Account to the beneficiaries of the estate and arrange distribution.
This price guide is for our full administration service for a straightforward estate where:-
- There is a valid will
- There are lay executors only (i.e., family members or friends)
- There is one property
- There are no more than three bank or building society accounts
- There are no other intangible assets
- There are three legatees
- No more than two adult UK residuary beneficiaries
- There are no disputes between executors or beneficiaries as to the division of assets. If a dispute should arise then 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 inheritance tax account to HM Revenue and Customs
- There are no claims made against the estate
Our fees are calculated partly on a time spent basis at an hourly rate and partly as a percentage of the value of the gross estate. The hourly rate is determined by the skill and expertise of the Solicitor or Probate Executive carrying out the work.
We anticipate that an estate of this nature will take between 12 and 17 hours of work at £190 per hour plus VAT (this rate is based upon a Solicitor, who is less than 10 years qualified acting).
The total overall charge for a full administration service of an estate of this kind are therefore estimated at £2,280 and £3,230 plus a charge based on the value of the estate (0.5% of the value of any residence and 1% of the remainder of the estate) plus VAT and disbursements (which are set out in further detail below).
Please note that the exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter and the hourly rate of the solicitor or probate executive carrying out the work. For example, if there is one beneficiary and no property, costs will be less than if there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts.
In addition to our costs the following disbursements are likely to be necessary:-
- Probate court fee – £155 plus 50p for each additional official copy of the grant
- Swearing of the oath – £7 per executor
- Bankruptcy search fees – £2 per name
- HM Land Registry office copies – £6 per title
- Advertising for creditors – £200
- Professional valuation fees – variable
We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. There is no need for you to open an executor’s bank account as we operate a client account which can receive all money due to the estate and simplifies the settling of liabilities and the making of distributions.
In using our full administration service you remain in complete control, taking the decisions as to the encashment and/or transfer of the assets in the estate. We do not require you to appoint us as your attorneys in order to be able to administer the estate in this way, although if circumstances are such that this is appropriate it is a service we do offer (if for example an executor is going abroad and will be out of contact for a prolonged period).
Potential additional costs
- If there is no will or the estate consists of any holdings (stocks and bonds) there is likely to be additional costs that could vary significantly depending on the estate and how it the assets are to be dealt with. We can give you a more accurate quote once we have more information.
- If there are assets located outside the UK then there will be additional costs in dealing with these assets.
- If there are beneficiaries abroad
- If there are beneficiaries under the age of 18 then we can discuss any trust arising with you and your ongoing duties in relation to the trust fund.
- The conveyancing costs of the sale or transfer of any property in the estate is not included.
How long will this take?
On average, estates that fall within this range are dealt with within 6 to 9 months.
Our team of Private Client solicitors in Bristol understand that dealing with the affairs of a family member or friend after they have died can be both stressful and upsetting. We combine a sensitive approach with the knowledge and experience gained from years of helping people just like you through this difficult process. To find out more about the experience and expertise of each of our team, please click on the links in the Meet The Team section below.
To find out more, or to book an appointment, call 0117 962 1205 and ask for a member of our probate team. Alternatively, you can use our online contact form to send us a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
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