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Freeths - Law firm

Estate Administration – Pricing Information

Dealing with an estate when someone has died can be daunting and it can be difficult to know where to start. At Freeths, we have a great deal of experience in advising and supporting people with the administration of estates and liaising with family and friends to ensure that the deceased’s wishes are carried out.

Peace of mind

You may have concerns about the costs of administering an estate. With this in mind, we provide a flexible administration service at competitive rates.

Expert understanding and supportive guidance

The administration of an estate can be highly confusing and time consuming. To help you get the process started, we will provide you with a free, no-obligation 30 minute consultation with one of our lawyers during which we can discuss with you what an administration involves and your responsibilities. This meeting will also help identify whether there are any unusual aspects to the administration, upon which you may need specific advice.

Our specialist probate team forms part of our UK top ranked Private Client Services department. So, rest assured, the lawyer assigned to help you will have the experience and knowledge to make the administration of the estate less daunting.

We provide practical legal assistance tailored to your needs, which allows you to decide how much or how little you would like us to do.

The administration

Every estate administration is different, and we tailor our service to the requirements of each estate. Our charges are based on the time we spend dealing with an administration. Because every estate is so different, it is not possible in a guide such as this to say exactly what our charges will be for any given estate. However to help you understand the likely costs that might be charged, we have envisaged three possible levels of complexity that an estate administration might bring so as to give you some perspective.  Costs for estates in dispute or subject to legal proceedings are priced separately. We can provide a full estimate specific to your case on request.

Before starting work for you, we will provide a detailed letter setting out our costs estimate for the specific estate.

Straightforward non-taxable estates: between £7,500 and £12,500 plus VAT (between £9,000 and £15,000 including VAT) 

Estates within this example are generally ones where:

  • the deceased has left a Will and all the named executors are alive and have capacity, and the beneficiaries are all adults and inherit outright;
  • the estate consists of a small number of bank accounts, certificated shareholdings or bonds (where all relevant proofs of ownership are available) and a small number of low value personal items. The estate may also include a property where we are not instructed to assist with the day to day management of the property or its sale, unless agreed for a separate cost;
  • you are able to identify all the beneficiaries and they live in the UK;
  • no inheritance tax is payable; and
  • you fully complete our estate administration fact find.

By way of example, the estate administration might include the following work:

  • ascertaining the assets and liabilities of the estate including obtaining the required date of death values for probate purposes;
  • preparing a detailed schedule of assets and liabilities in readiness for the grant application;
  • preparing and submitting the application for the grant of probate;
  • confirming that income tax matters to the date of death are settled;
  • collecting in the cash assets of the estate, with our client account acting as the executors’ account for this purpose and selling or transferring shares or other non-cash assets;
  • paying liabilities;
  • verifying legatees and paying legacies;
  • distributing to the residuary beneficiaries (including interim and final distributions);
  • preparing estate accounts showing all transactions throughout the administration and calculating the sums due to the beneficiaries; and
  • reporting the income tax and gains for the period of the administration where this qualifies for informal reporting.

More complicated estates: between £12,500  and £25,000 plus VAT (between £15,000 and £30,000 including VAT)

These estates may consist of a property, a share portfolio, multiple bank accounts and chattels. The will tends to be more complex – it may include a number of legacies or multiple beneficiaries, and the residue of the estate may be held on trust for one or more beneficiaries. Inheritance tax is often payable.

By way of example, the estate administration might include:

  • all aspects of the estate administration detailed for straightforward non-taxable estates above;
  • dealing with the day to day management of a property including arranging insurance and meeting insurance requirements, dealing with utilities and taking care of any arising issues;
  • arranging for the sale or transfer of a share portfolio and ensuring all income and gains arising in the interim are accurately accounted for;
  • the completion of the inheritance tax return, which will normally be reported on the longer inheritance tax form (IHT400), including ensuring all appropriate reliefs and exemptions are claimed. This may include making a claim for the transferable nil rate band and residential nil rate band, if these apply;
  • arranging for the payment of any inheritance tax that is due and using the assets of the estate to discharge the payment due to HMRC;
  • reporting any amendments in the value of the estate to HMRC, including drafting a corrective account and making loss on sale claims, where applicable;
  • answering inheritance tax queries raised by HMRC;
  • collating income and gains information required for formal reporting and advising on tax requirements; and
  • claiming the lower rate of inheritance tax of 36% for testators who leave a sufficient proportion of their estate to charity.

Complex estates: from £25,000 plus VAT (from £30,000 including VAT)

By way of example, the estate administration might include:

  • foreign assets such as overseas property or bank accounts;
  • commercial or investment properties;
  • intellectual property;
  • agricultural assets;
  • partnership or business assets;
  • substantial shareholdings; and
  • more than one trust created by the will.

This type of estate administration will require an initial meeting with you at which we will be able to provide a more detailed estimate based on the nature of the assets involved. The administration will include some or all of the elements referred to under the straightforward and more complicated estate examples.

The basis of our charges

Our fees are based on the hourly rates of the specialist probate lawyers who carry out the work during the estate administration. You will be advised of the lawyers who will be acting for you and their hourly rate at the outset of your matter. Our letter of engagement with you will set out the full details of our charges for the estate that you ask us to administer.

Other expenses

There are fees that must also be paid during the administration. The usual disbursements and expenses will include the following:

  • inserting s27 Trustee Act 1925 notices in a local newspaper and The London Gazette: approximately £200.00 – £250.00;
  • Land Registry search fee for register entries: £3.60 per entry;
  • bankruptcy search fees:  £2.40 for each beneficiary;
  • HM Courts & Tribunals Service fee for issue of the Grant of Probate: £273; and
  • HM Courts & Tribunals Service fee for sealed copies of the Grant of Probate: £1.50 per copy.

These disbursements are levied by third parties and may change without notice.

Additional costs

The examples given above do not include all of the work that might be encountered in the administration of the estate. Any work that falls outside of the estimate contained in our letter of engagement with you will be charged at our hourly rates and will be agreed with you in advance. By way of example, this may include:

  • arranging the funeral;
  • tracing missing beneficiaries and executors and dealing with attorney grant applications and applications for Letters of Administration with Will Annexed;
  • missing wills;
  • applications for emergency grants ad colligenda bona or grants of probate de bonis non.
  • dealing with a person’s digital estate and online assets;
  • dealing with the distributions of chattels when this is not dealt with by the family;
  • calculation of inheritance tax on lifetime gifts including claims for normal expenditure out of income relief and taper relief;
  • advice on capital gains tax issues during the administration and mitigation steps prior to sale / distribution of assets;
  • inheritance tax planning including preparation of  deeds of variation;
  • advising about the constitution or management of trusts created by the will;
  • completion of tax returns both to the date of death and for the period of the administration (please ask for our guide and price list); and
  • the interaction of a deceased’s estate with trusts of which they might have been a settlor, protector or beneficiary in their lifetime.

If you require any of these services or would like us to help you obtain a grant of probate or administration only we will give you an estimate of costs before these are incurred.

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Freeths are a leading national law firm with 13 offices across the UK. If you have a query about our services or just want to find out more, why not give us a call?

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