The right to deal with the estate of someone who has died is called Probate. When someone dies, you may be able to apply for a ‘grant of representation’. This gives you the legal right to deal with the person’s property, money and possessions (their ‘estate’). Probate work usually involves proving that, if the deceased left a will, that the will is valid, identifying the deceased person’s property and having the value of property appraised, paying any outstanding debts and taxes, including inheritance tax, and distributing the property according to the will or, sometimes, according to law. If there is no will, a close relative of the deceased can apply to the probate registry to deal with the estate. In this case they apply for a ‘grant of letters of administration’. If the grant is given, they are known as ‘administrators’ of the estate. This grant of letters of administration is also a legal document which confirms the administrator’s authority to deal with the deceased person’s assets. As there is no will in this case the estate will have to be distributed according to a strict order of priority called the ‘rules of intestacy’. Certain very small estates may not require any type of grant to be taken out. We can advise you on all probate issues and deal with all aspects of administrating the estate. We aim to make this sad time as stress-free as possible for our clients. We are able to provide some indication of our charges for this work.

Obtaining the Grant of Probate

In appropriate circumstances we can offer a fixed fee for obtaining a Grant where there is a will but no inheritance tax (‘IHT’) of  £950 + VAT. For estates where IHT is payable and there is a will , the fixed fee  if appropriate would be £1,500 + VAT. For intestacies and lost wills there will be  additional charges,  of which we will advise in advance, for drafting affidavits  and dealing with additional documentation as required. For complex estates with numerous assets and properties  it may still be possible to negotiate  a fixed fee for obtaining the Grant of Probate. We can discuss this with you in advance .  In relation to all such matters you will also have to pay any fees required by the probate registry and any other disbursements.

Drawing in the estate

The amount of work  required to be done varies greatly  so  we will not normally offer a fixed fee service. Our standard charging rate is currently £250 + VAT per hour. The cost for a fairly  modest estate  tends to be in the region of  £3,000 to £5,000 + VAT. This includes obtaining the grant of probate and administering a small non taxable estate.  There may be separate expenses in relation to calculating and paying Capital Gains Tax and Income tax which are not included in this estimate. Complicated estates with foreign assets can be considerably more expensive both  in relation to obtaining the grant of probate and in  administering the estate. The work will be done by Clara Fuschillo a qualified solicitor with 20 years experience supervised by Melanie Craig a qualified solicitor  with over 35 years experience. Likely disbursements are :  probate fee of £155,  Trustee Act Notices, ranging between £200-400 and valuations  of property and other assets  Most valuations will attract VAT  currently at 20%. Valuations of property  are likely to cost at least £500  plus  Vat but can be  much more depending on value  of the  property. The cost of  valuations of other assets will depend on the asset in question and estimates will be obtained for approval in advance. The  likely  stages of the matter and time scales assuming all information is readily available:   obtaining of probate 3-4 months, followed by distribution of the estate  which can take in the region of 12 -18 months unless is the estate is very straightforward with no properties to sell.