Wills, Trust & Probate

Our Probate Services

Probate is the legal process followed when someone dies. Trying to understand why and if probate is required, how probate works in the UK, how to apply for probate, and what probate means can be an added stress at an already difficult time.

Probate and administration matters vary considerably in their complexity. Whatever the size of the estate, from a few hundred pounds to many millions, we can deal with it, and help Executors comply with legal obligations.

If someone has died and you need immediate help with probate call us on 01273 604123 or email us at enquire@bbc-law.co.uk.

Do I need a Solicitor for Probate?

Your Free Guide

Do I need a Solicitor for Probate?

As expert probate solicitors, we talk to many families who are coping with the loss of a loved one at the same time as trying to deal with the legal process of probate. When many of our clients first call us, they often ask if they really need a solicitor for probate.

What is a Grant of Probate?

A Grant of Probate gives the Executors of the Will the authority to deal with assets such as bank accounts, shares, and property.

If the deceased did not leave a Will behind, or if the Will is disputed, probates can become complex and problems can arise.

What is an Executor?

An Executor is the person or people named in a Will to deal with the estate. They must:

  • calculate how much the estate is worth
  • apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate
  • if the estate is large enough, pay Inheritance Tax before they receive the Grant
  • deal with the assets, closing accounts, transferring assets, dealing with property, and pay off debts
  • distribute the remaining assets in accordance with the Will
Is a Grant of Probate always required?

A Grant of Probate is not always necessary. There are many different factors, but a Grant of Probate will usually be required if the deceased:

  • had property in their sole name or as tenants in common
  • had savings of more than £15,000 and shares in their sole name worth over £5000
  • left a valid Will – if not, a Grant of Letters of Administration will be required instead
Do I need to use a solicitor for Probate?

We often hear from clients who have underestimated the amount of work involved with probate, and need our help. It is up to the Executor(s) to decide if they have the time and patience to deal with a process that is notoriously frustrating, in addition to the financial responsibility.

If you manage a probate yourself, you will be financially responsible for any errors you make. HMRC is taking an increasingly hard line against errors in forms which cover inheritance tax. If you make a mistake, the penalties can be harsh.

The Executor will be expected to settle any unpaid debts and may find themselves faced with reams of paperwork and legal jargon at a time where they are trying to cope with grief.

Many people decide to save time, money, and stress by employing a probate solicitor to do the complex work for them.

Examples of what we charge for a probate

Note: In these examples we have changed names and some other details to protect confidentiality.

A simple matter – Mr George

We charged £1,300.00 plus VAT and disbursements.

Mr George was 78 when he passed away, and three weeks after his death his wife asked us to assist in the Grant of Probate to his estate. This was a simple matter, handled by an experienced legal executive. We were able to receive the grant in a little over 4 months from being instructed. Our bill was £1,300.00 plus VAT and disbursements.

The reasons the bill was relatively small were:

  • His house was jointly owned with his wife, so there was no conveyancing needed
  • No inheritance tax was payable
  • The assets we had to collect and distribute were from five savings accounts (including ISA’s and Premium Bonds). He also had one joint savings account and two joint bank accounts with his wife. These assets had an approximate value of £203,000.00
  • There were only three beneficiaries including Mrs George and there were no trusts or other complexities involved
  • The information we required was easily obtainable, Mrs George was prompt in her correspondence with us, and she was able to provide us the information we required102

In addition to our fees there were disbursements of £172.00. These would be the same at any firm. They were made up of a probate application fee of £158.00 and £14.00 for swearing of the oath.

A typical case – Miss M Bennett

We charged £10,725.00 plus VAT and disbursements.

We had known the family for some years and were saddened to hear that one of the sisters had passed away aged 83. We were approached by the family to apply for the Grant of Probate, and to administer the estate. This took a little over two years to complete because of the property sale involved.

We estimated that it would cost up to £12,100.00* plus VAT and disbursements to assist the family in dealing with the estate. This cost estimate was based on the number of hours we assessed it would take (55 hours) and the hourly rate of the experienced legal executive leading the matter (£220.00*).

The time estimate was based on our need to;

  • Establish the assets and liabilities in the estate, which included 15 bank, building society and savings accounts, government departments, and Miss Bennett’s chattels
  • Encash the assets across the same 15 organisations and pay any liabilities, including valuations, funeral costs and property clearance and cleaning
  • Prepare an IHT 400 and liaise with the Capital Taxes Office
  • Prepare and swear oaths and apply for the Grant of Probate
  • Liaise with HMRC and prepare the tax returns to the date of death and for the administration period
  • Prepare the estate accounts and deal with the residue, distributing this to three beneficiaries
  • Arrange for the sale of the property (completed through our firm but as a separate matter with our fees for the conveyancing being paid from the sale monies)

In addition to our bill there were disbursements of £167.00 which was £7.00 for a swear fee and £160.00 for the probate registry.

*We have updated this figure to reflect our current hourly rates, as using the actual quote would give a false impression.

A complicated case – Mrs Montgomery

We charged £41,000.00 plus VAT and disbursements.

Our Managing Director and experienced legal executive have administered the complex estate of Mrs Montgomery. Mrs Montgomery’s estate, valued at over £2.7 million, included a portfolio of bonds, shares and other investments, savings accounts and ISAs, a number of properties some of which were generating rental income, bank and building society accounts, pensions, and life insurance policies.

Mrs Montgomery’s wishes were for specific legacies and residuary elements of her estate to be distributed to charities, friends and family which took over 2 and half years to complete. A substantial part of which was dealing with the sale of property assets and tracing assets and trustees.

Due to the complex nature of this matter we charged a percentage of the gross value of the estate. We needed to;

  • Establish the assets and liabilities in the estate
  • Encash the assets and pay any liabilities
  • Prepare an IHT 400 and liaise with the Capital Taxes Office over payment of Inheritance Tax
  • Prepare and swear oaths and apply for the Grant of Probate
  • Liaise with HMRC and prepare the tax returns to the date of death and for the administration period
  • Prepare the estate accounts and distribute the specific and residual elements of the estate
  • Trace missing assets
  • Deal with substantive issues on several trusts
  • Deal with delicate issues between beneficiaries
  • Deal with Inheritance Tax instalment payments

In addition to our bill there were disbursements of £187.00 which was £27.00 for a swear fees and £160.00 for the probate registry.

David Edwards

David has been a Director in the firm since 1986. In addition to his role as Managing Director, David is also Head of the Private Client team.

Read More About David
I needed expert advice on a complicated probate matter involving a cross-border estate...David's experience in dealing with such cases gave me confidence that I would be in good hands, and I wasn't disappointed. The whole process proceeded much more smoothly than I had dared hope, and the final bill was exactly in line with the estimate that I was originally given.

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About Burt Brill & Cardens

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