Here at Mark Reynolds Solicitors, we understand the process of dealing with the estate of a family member or friend may be a daunting experience. Our experienced team of probate lawyers can assist with as much or as little of the process as you like whether that’s simply securing a Grant of Probate or handling the entire administration process. We will always offer you support and assistance during the administration of an estate and the application for probate or letters of administration.
When an estate is straightforward we can help by “extracting” the Grant for you. This would typically involve you providing the information about the estate, typically the assets and liabilities at the date of death, so that we may prepare and submit the application for the Grant on your behalf.
Once the Grant has been obtained this will be handed to the executor/personal representative who can then proceed to collect the assets, settle debts of the estate and distribute the remaining estate in accordance with the Will or intestacy rules.
For peace of mind, if you would like us to extract the Grant, we offer a fixed fee of £500 plus VAT and disbursements for a simple estate. Typically, this would be a simple estate with no inheritance tax liability or possible disputes.
There are situations when you may choose to instruct Mark Reynolds Solicitors to administer the estate on behalf of the executors or personal representatives, examples may include:
- Where the estate exceeds the current inheritance tax threshold, currently £325,000 (£650,000 for a married couple).
- The person died without a Will and there is a complex estate to administer.
- When doubts are raised about the validity of the deceased’s Will or where possible challenges may arise from dependents who have been excluded from the Will and may claim against the estate.
- The estate includes foreign property or foreign assets.
What is probate?
Most of us will encounter probate at some point in our lives but until we do, few of us understand what it involves.
Probate is the process involved in administering a person’s estate when they die. Either a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration will need to be granted by the Probate Registry before this can take place. These documents give one or more people the legal authority to manage the affairs of the deceased person. This includes accessing and distributing their assets, such as their personal possessions, money and property.
The processes involved in probate differ depending on the existence or otherwise of a legitimate will:
- A Grant of Probate will be required if there is a valid Will that appoints one or more executors. These executors will then apply to the Probate Registry for the Grant.
- A Grant of Letters of Administration will usually be required where the person died without a valid Will. This is known as ‘intestate’. If this is the case, a close family member will then need to apply to Probate Registry to become an administrator of the estate.
What do probate services involve?
Probate services can take care of as much or as little of the probate process as required. This process will involve a number of steps.
Regardless of the existence or otherwise of a valid Will, estate administration will be required. This refers to every activity relating to the valuation, collection and distribution of the deceased’s estate. This may include complex paperwork, chasing companies and extensive form filling.
Many of these administrative duties within estate administration apply will still apply even if there isn’t a valid Will in place, and even if probate isn’t required.
Estate administration has several stages to it and will vary in complexity from person to person. Determining factors will include the size of the deceased’s estate, whether Inheritance Tax is due and the number of beneficiaries named in the Will.
For non-taxable estates, the Executors need to submit the probate application form PA1, IHT form, an official copy of the death certificate, the original Will (and 3 copies) and any codicils and the application fee.
For taxable estates, the Executors are required to complete the relevant tax forms and forward them to HMRC. This means they will need to identify and then value the deceased’s assets to see if the estate is liable for Inheritance Tax. There may also be other taxes to pay such as Income or Capital Gains Tax.
Once forms have been submitted to HMRC and taxes paid, the Executors need to submit the probate application form PA1, an official copy of the death certificate, the original Will (and 3 copies) and any codicils and the application fee to the Probate Registry. An appointment can be made to obtain the Grant of Probate.
The Executor will then be able to gather in all of the deceased assets such as property, bank and savings accounts, business assets, personal possessions and investments. Any outstanding debts such as utility bills, loans, mortgages etc. will need to be paid and assets may need to be sold to facilitate this.
The beneficiaries of the Will should be located and paid any legacies or gifts that are due to them in accordance with the Will, or the laws of intestacy.
All of these responsibilities can be daunting, particularly when someone is grieving. As a result, professional probate services can handle as much or as little of the process as is required. An experienced legal professional will be able to deal with every aspect of the probate process in compliance with the law and in a timely manner. All the while they will put the interests of the client first.
How Much Do Probate Services Cost?
Our fees for Probate are based upon an hourly charge of £215 plus VAT.
We will always provide you with a quote for the expected number of hours we would expect an estate to take and the overall cost at the outset. Before you instruct us to proceed we will ensure you are updated on the fees as the matter progresses.
We will also advise you of the disbursements that will be incurred, for example:
- Oath swear fees, typically, £10.00;
- Probate application fee £155.00.
- A sealed copy of the Grant £1.50 per copy
We believe this is the most cost-effective way of providing this service to our clients.
Some probate firms and other solicitors may charge a percentage basis or a combination of an hourly rate and percentage which may result in significantly higher fees than an hourly rate alone, particularly given the continual rise in house prices which will be the most significant asset in most estates.
Ready to help
If you have been named as an executor in a will or are a close family member of a deceased person who died intestate, then we are here to help. The process can seem confusing but with our expert guidance, it needn’t be stressful.
For more information on how we can help you apply for a Grant of Representation, please complete the contact form or call us on 01942 260 228.