Probate

In the UK, when your time comes to an end and you die, the executors of your Estate will have to apply for Probate, and make a return and declaration of the total value of the Estate to see if Inheritance Tax is due to the Government, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs. The appropriate Inheritance Tax form, in the form of a scroll with a black ribbon is shown here along with a Probate Application form. The pocket watch is set to midnight: the end of time.What is Probate?
When a person dies, someone has to deal with their financial affairs. This is called “administering the estate”. We realise this is a stressful time and we aim to offer a sympathetic and practical approach. It is important to find out at an early stage whether the deceased person left a Will, as this will usually specify who is entitled to administer the estate, as well as stating who is to inherit the assets.

What if I don’t make a Will?
If there is no Will, (known as dying “intestate”) the process is more complicated. There are strict rules governing who has the right to administer the estate of someone who dies intestate. Your assets do not necessarily pass wholly to your spouse. The person or people who administer the estate are called “Personal Representatives” (“PR’s”). The PR’s will usually have to apply for a grant of representation from the Probate Registry before they are able to deal with the assets. Where there is a Will, this is called a Grant of Probate and where there is no Will, this is called a Grant of Letters of Administration.

What does a Grant do?
A grant, in essence, is formal recognition that the person or people named within it are legally entitled to administer the estate. Usually, a grant will be needed if the assets within the estate:
• are valued at more than £5,000
• include stocks and shares
• include a house or land or includes certain insurance policies.

What do PR’s do?
It is the PR’s responsibility to pay all the debts and liabilities of the estate, (possibly including Inheritance Tax) and to ensure that the beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to.

How long does the administration take?
Administering an estate can often take quite some time. It is not unusual for it to take up to a year or even longer if there are complications. Many organisations may be involved, for example, banks, building societies, insurance companies, HM Revenue & Customs and The Department for Works and Pensions.

What if there is a dispute?
Unfortunately, there are occasions when family members do not agree how an estate is to be distributed. Disagreements can arise, for example, concerning the validity of a will or a person may feel that they are not receiving a reasonable share of the assets. We have many years of experience dealing with such disputes and are able to offer advice and if needed provide representation in court in order to resolve such disputes.

OUR CHARGES

Probate

The figures below are intended to give you an estimate of the fees you should expect when we are dealing with a probate matter for you.

As a guide, our charges to deal with the full Administration of a simple Estate will typically be in the region of £1,750 to £2,750 to which VAT and disbursements will be added. A simple Estate may include, but is not limited to, the situation where a person has passed away with or without a Will, leaving assets within the UK where Inheritance Tax is not likely to be payable.

Our charges to deal with the full Administration of a complex Estate will typically be charged in the region of 1% to 1.5% of the total value of the Estate, plus VAT and disbursements, subject to a discount in respect of the deceased’s residence. A complex Estate may include, but is not limited to, the situation where a person has passed away with or without a Will, leaving assets within the UK where Inheritance Tax is likely to be payable.

Anticipated disbursements include:

Application Fee for a Grant of Representation    £155.00 (plus 50p for each additional sealed copy required)

Adverts for Creditors                                                      £96.00 to post in the London Gazette. This protects against claims from unknown creditors

Bankruptcy Search Fee                                                  £2.00 per search. To determine the solvency of a beneficiary

Land Registry Title Documents                                   £3.00 per document. To check the ownership of a property.

Additional disbursements may be due depending on the particular circumstances of the Estate.

We also offer a fixed fee service for obtaining a Grant of Representation only, where the deceased person has passed away with or without a Will. Our fixed fee service will be £700 to which VAT and disbursements will be added. Our service includes completing the statement of truth and completing HM Revenue & Customs ‘short’ tax form using the information supplied by you.

Once the Grant of Representation has been issued, you will then be responsible for dealing with the Administration of the Estate accordingly.

Anticipated disbursements include:

Application Fee for a Grant of Representation    £155.00 (plus 50p for each additional sealed copy required)

Land Registry Title Documents                                   £3.00 per document. To check the ownership of a property

Additional disbursements may be due depending on the particular circumstances of the Estate.

We are unable to offer a fixed fee service where the Estate is likely to pay Inheritance Tax.

In the event of a contested Estate, our charges may be calculated by reference to the time spent in dealing with your matter and the expertise and qualifications of the person acting for you. Our current hourly rates are as follows:

Partners                               £235.00 + VAT

Solicitors                              £200.00 + VAT

Legal Assistants                  £180.00 + VAT

Key Stages and the likely timeframes involved when dealing with the full Administration of simple and complex Estates:

Once you have supplied us with information about the Estate, we will write to all the financial institutions where the deceased person held funds to obtain all balances at the date of death. We will then complete the relevant HM Revenue & Customs tax form. The type of form used depends on whether Inheritance Tax will be payable. We shall then prepare a statement of truth for the Representative to sign. The statement of truth and the tax form will then be submitted to the Probate Registry.

When the Grant of Representation has been issued we will collect in and distribute the money, property and other assets belonging to the person following their death. We will do this either in accordance with the terms of the person’s Will or in accordance with the intestacy rules, where the deceased person has not left a Will. We will then prepare an Estate Account to show you how all the monies have been accounted for. We will then distribute the Estate to the Beneficiaries accordingly.

No probate matter is exactly the same therefore it is difficult to predict the likely time frame as it will depend upon the size and complexity of the Estate. Nevertheless, there is a usual timeframe of between three and six months when dealing with a simple Estate and a usual timeframe of between 12 months to 18 months when dealing with a complex Estate.

Experience and Qualifications of individuals:

Christopher Sleigh– Senior Partner and head of the Private Client department. Christopher has over 50 years’ experience in private client work, specialising in Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trusts, Court of Protection work and Estate Administration.

John Galvin- Associate Solicitor with over 40 years’ experience practising in Tameside. John advises on Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney, as well as dealing with Estate Administration. He has particular experience in dealing with Estates where the deceased held assets in Ireland.

Clifford Parsons- Associate Solicitor with over 30 years’ experience practising in Tameside. Cliff advises on the preparation of Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney and deals with Estate Administration. He has particular experience in dealing with Estates where the deceased held assets in Ireland.

Susan Flynn- Chartered Legal Executive with over 30 years’ experience in family law. Susan also advises on Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and deals with Estate Administration.

Andrew Platts– Associate Solicitor in the Private Client department. Andrew deals with all aspects of private client work including the drafting of Wills, Trusts, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Estate Administration. He also deals with Court of Protection matters and frequently makes applications to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship order.

Our charges mentioned above, save for the fixed fee service we provide, are estimates only and a full case-specific quote or estimate can be obtained by contacting Andrew Platts or Christopher Sleigh who will be happy to discuss matters with you in more detail.

We will always provide you with a full estimate of our charges and expenses for dealing with your matter at the outset

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