Costs for Probate – A Case Study

Standard Scenario

Mrs Jones, a widow, died having made a Will leaving her estate to her two adult sons in equal shares.  The estate consisted of a property in her sole name worth £500,000, various shareholdings and investments worth £50,000 and cash in Bank and Building Society accounts worth £25,000 (net estate of £575,000).  Her sons, as the executors of the Will, have asked us to act on their behalf in the administration of the estate.

Although there is no Inheritance Tax liability on the estate given the availability of Mrs Jones’ nil rate band and the transferable nil rate band from her late husband (who died 7 years previously leaving his entire estate to her) there would still be a need to apply for and obtain a Grant of Probate to administer the assets of the estate.

Our charges are based on the solicitor’s hourly charge out rate which is currently £260.00 plus VAT, although is subject to change.

There would first be a need to ascertain the assets and liabilities of the estate and their values at the date of death.   This entails arranging for the property to be valued by either a surveyor or through three separate firms of Estate Agents (and the mean average taken) and corresponding with the organisations and Bank and Building Society accounts with which Mrs Jones held her investments and accounts.

Once this exercise had been completed, we prepare a Schedule of Assets and Liabilities for the executors to check over to ensure that from their point of view there are no errors or omissions. The Schedule would also form the basis for the completion of the Probate application papers, specifically the relevant HMRC Return declaring the values of the assets and liabilities of the estate.

As well as the relevant HMRC Return, the Probate application would consist of an Oath for Executors, a Probate Court fee (currently £155.00) and the Will itself.

The issue of the Grant of Probate (normally two weeks after the application) enables the executors to administer the estate and, as such, we would be able to sell or transfer the property and the investments to the beneficiaries and arrange closure of the bank accounts.  We would also be able to settle any debts or valuer’s fees and other administration expenses that had arisen during the course of dealing with the estate from the estate monies collected in.

Prior to the final distribution of the estate to the two sons, we prepare estate accounts for their approval in their capacity as the executors, setting out all transactions in the estate since the date of death including any income receipts and gains and losses on any of the assets following their sale.  The estate accounts would also show how the beneficiaries’ final entitlements have been calculated.

Every probate case is different with its own special circumstances and challenges so it would not be appropriate to provide a definitive figure for dealing with the estate.  However, the cost of dealing with the estate of the above scenario is unlikely to exceed £5,000 plus VAT and disbursements.

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