This page contains the regulatory information but our legal relationship will be governed by the terms of business that is agreed between the firm and the client.

Probate (uncontested)

1. Probate Work

Wedlake Bell’s Private Client Team acts for executors and the administrators of estates in administering an estate in accordance with the terms of the deceased’s Will. Often the deceased will have complex financial affairs including different assets classes and property overseas. Our work often involves claims for the correct inheritance tax (“IHT“) relief and exemptions and liaising and negotiating with HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC“).

In accordance with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA“) Transparency Rules dated 30 May 2018, we are required to provide certain information on costs for our probate services. We have done so below in the context of two examples with which we commonly deal:

1. A UK estate with a value of up to £1 million that passes to a spouse or civil partner (“spouse” hereafter includes civil partner) that is exempt from IHT(“an IHT Exempt Estate“); and

2. A high-value and complex UK and multijurisdictional estate with a value in excess of £1 million that passes to a number of beneficiaries where IHT is involved (“an IHT Chargeable Estate“).

2. IHT Exempt Estate

Our fees will generally be charged on a time-spent basis at the hourly rates of the fee-earner(s), partner(s) and/ or consultant(s) involved.

We estimate that a typical probate instruction for an Exempt Estate as detailed further below will take between 17 hours and 34 hours work at an average of £300 per hour. The total costs will range between £5,000 and £10,000 excluding VAT, disbursements and expenses where applicable (between £6,000 and £12,000 including VAT). Any tax due in respect of the estate or the deceased’s lifetime affairs, including IHT, capital gains tax and income tax as applicable, is not included in this fee estimate. Estimates of actual disbursements are set out at 2.2 below.

The fee estimate above is by way of guidance only and the overall fees will depend on the particular circumstances of the matter.

In some cases, where the scope of the work is clear and the timescales more easily identifiable, we may be able to offer you a fixed fee for all or part of the matter. We will be able to advise you further once we have full instructions and a clear idea of the work involved.

2.1 Summary of work included – IHT Exempt Estate

The above estimate for an Exempt Estate includes the following work. You can find more information on the probate process as a whole in our bulletin “Bereavement”.

2.1.1 Taking initial instructions and sending you a copy of the deceased’s Will. Sending you a Probate Questionnaire.

2.1.2 Initial meeting with you to advise on the Will or intestacy rules, the administration process, discuss the Probate Questionnaire and advise you on your duties as executors/administrators of the deceased’s estate.

2.1.3 Advise you on your responsibilities, including checking whether the deceased’s property is secured and insured.

2.1.4 Arrange for valuations of the deceased’s real estate, chattels, investments, bank accounts, other shareholdings and any other assets which make up the estate as at the date of death.

2.1.5 Ascertaining whether the deceased had an outstanding liabilities to the date of death and liaising with the creditors as necessary.

2.1.6 Consider lifetime gifts made by the deceased and whether those affect the inheritance tax position for the surviving spouse. Liaising with beneficiaries of those lifetime gifts if necessary for further information.

2.1.7 Writing to the relevant entities for information on utilities, council tax, house insurance and company shares if applicable.

2.1.8 Advising on claiming IHT allowances such as the IHT transferable nil-rate band and/ or the IHT residence nil-rate band as applicable. You can find more information on the IHT nil-rate band and these allowances on www.gov.uk/inheritance-tax and its related pages.

2.1.9 Advising on life insurance policies written in trust, preparing any deeds or documents required to release the policy proceeds and advising, or seeking advice on, any chargeable events that the policies give rise to for tax purposes.

2.1.10 Registering statutory notices pursuant to s.27 Trustee Act 1925 to protect the executors against unknown claims and creditors.

2.1.11 Liaising with the deceased’s accountant to ascertain the deceased’s income tax position to the date of death.

2.1.12 Once valuations have been received, preparing the short-form IHT return (IHT205) and oath.

2.1.13 Submitting the IHT return and probate application to the Probate Registry to obtain the grant of probate.

2.1.14 Sending the grant of probate and letters of authority to the deceased’s financial institutions, collecting in the assets and paying any liabilities.

2.1.15 Corresponding with surviving spouse regarding the distribution of the estate, paying any interim legacies or any pecuniary legacies that are due under the Will.

2.1.16 Liaising with the deceased’s accountant concerning the income tax and capital gains tax position of the estate.

2.1.17 Preparing estate accounts for the executors and beneficiaries.

2.1.18 Running bankruptcy checks on beneficiaries before paying out funds to them.

2.1.19 Paying the final balance out to the surviving spouse.

2.2 Disbursements

Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. We pay disbursements on your behalf and include the costs as part of your invoice.

Disbursements which will be payable in addition to our fee estimate above are:

2.2.1 £155 Probate Registry Fee plus 50p for each additional Office Copy Grant (inclusive of any VAT);

2.2.2 £5 to £50 swearing fees depending on number of executors (fees being £5 for the Will and £2 for each codicil or ancillary document) (inclusive of any VAT);

2.2.3 £3-£7 per Land Registry search (inclusive of any VAT); and

2.2.4 £1 Bankruptcy/ Land Charges searches, per beneficiary applicable.

VAT (where applicable) is charged at 20%.

2.3 Potential additional costs and disbursements

Potential additional costs and disbursements may include:

2.3.1 professional valuation fees for assets such as chartered surveyors’ fees for property valuations, stockbrokers’ fees for share valuations and auctioneers’ fees for personal chattels valuations;

2.3.2 accountancy fees for any accountant we instruct on your behalf to advise on the estate’s and the deceased’s income and capital gains tax liabilities;

2.3.3 a post in The London Gazette to protect against claims from unknown creditors; and

2.3.4 a post in a local newspaper which, as above, helps to protect against unexpected claims.

We will be able to give you estimates for these fees once we have more information and the fees will be agreed with you before they are incurred.

If any additional hard copies of the grant of probate are required, they will cost £10 for the first copy and 50p for each additional copy ordered at the same time. We usually advise that 10 additional copies of the grant of probate are ordered, totalling an additional £5.

2.4 What is not included –  IHT Exempt Estate

This costs information does not include advice on any of the following:-

2.4.1 advice about the income tax or capital gains tax position of the deceased in the period from 6 April to the date of their death;

2.4.2 the income tax or capital gains tax position of the estate during the administration period;

2.4.3 the legal work relating to the sale of the deceased’s main house or any other land or real estate property held at the death;

2.4.4 any interest in assets owned by the deceased outside the jurisdiction of England and Wales and sourcing foreign legal advice on these;

2.4.5 changes to legislation during course of estate administration;

2.4.6 trusts in which the deceased was a beneficiary at the date of death;

2.4.7 Deeds of Variation redirecting assets inherited by any of the beneficiaries;

2.4.8 financial advice on the suitability of the disposal of assets in the estate;

2.4.9 the personal taxation of estate beneficiaries;

2.4.10 tax planning for beneficiaries following receipt of their inheritance;

2.4.11 the sale of the deceased’s interest in a business or agricultural property;

2.4.12 restitution for long term care funding incorrectly paid by the deceased;

2.4.13 protracted correspondence and negotiations with HMRC; and

2.4.14 anything else not specifically identified in the ‘Summary of work included” above.

If applicable, we will price these and any other requirements separately for you.

2.5 Assumptions – IHT Exempt Estate

It is important for you to appreciate that the costs information provided above for an IHT Exempt Estate is based on a number of assumptions, including:-

2.5.1 there is a valid Will;

2.5.2 there are no unusual funeral requests in the Will, the body is not being donated for medical research and we are not required to organise the funeral;

2.5.3 we are able to speedily identify all assets and liabilities of the estate and there are no delays/ issues/ refusals by third parties in providing valuations;

2.5.4 there is no inheritance tax payable and the executors do not need to submit a full IHT400 IHT Return to HMRC;

2.5.5 there are no technical or other impediments to a grant of probate by the Probate Registry and the Will being proved as the last Will and Testament of the deceased;

2.5.6 there are no claims against the estate or disputes in respect of the estate whatsoever by relatives, creditors or any other person and no caveats are lodged at the Probate Registry;

2.5.7 all beneficiaries reside in the UK and can be identified, traced and are at least 18 years of age and able to understand and sign documentation as required;

2.5.8 there are no material disagreements amongst the beneficiaries and/or the trustees;

2.5.9 the deceased only owns a maximum of two properties both of which are used as a residence and are situated in the UK;

2.5.10 the deceased’s property is their main residence and in good condition with no outstanding insurance claims;

2.5.11 HMRC do not open a compliance investigation or have significant queries;

2.5.12 buyers for the assets including the property are found and sales complete within six months of the issue of the grant of probate;

2.5.13 properties owned by the deceased were not let at death or continue to be let during the estate administration;

2.5.14 the Will was validly executed and there is no partial intestacy; and

2.5.15 the estate is solvent.

If any of these key assumptions are incorrect or change over time, we will need to provide you with a revised scope of work, revised timetable and revised fee estimate.

3. IHT CHARGEABLE ESTATE

Our fees will generally be charged on a time-spent basis at the hourly rates of the fee-earner(s), partner(s) and consultant(s) involved.

We have provided a fee estimate for probate instructions for an IHT Chargeable Estate as detailed in the table below according to the gross size of the estate. The cost ranges below, which are stated to be exclusive of VAT, are also exclusive of disbursements and expenses where applicable. Estimates of actual disbursements are set out at 3.2 below. Any tax due in respect of the estate or the deceased’s lifetime affairs, including inheritance tax, capital gains tax and income tax as applicable, is not included in these fee estimates. You can find more information about working out the likely IHT due on the estate on the HMRC website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/work-out-what-part-of-your-estate-pays-inheritance-tax. However, we will advise you on inheritance tax in full once we have full details of the matter.

The table below is by way of guidance only and the overall fees will depend on the particular circumstances of the matter. For example, if there are multiple beneficiaries, assets in overseas jurisdictions, complex asset structures and more than one residence, the costs will be higher than those for an estate with a small number of high value UK based assets.

In some cases, where the scope of the work is clear and the timescales more easily identifiable, we may be able to offer you a fixed fee for all or part of the matter. We will be able to advise you further once we have full instructions and a clear idea of the work involved.

Gross size of the estateEstimated fee rangeEstimated timescale at an average rate of £300 per hour
£1m
£7,500 to £30,000 excluding VAT
(£9,000 to £36,000 including VAT)
25 hours to 100 hours
£3m
£15,000 to £60,000 excluding VAT
(£18,000 to £72,000 including VAT)
50 hours to 200 hours
£5m
£30,000 to £100,000 excluding VAT
(£36,000 to £120,000 including VAT)
100 hours to 334 hours
£10m
£40,000 to £175,000 excluding VAT
(£48,000 to £210,000 including VAT)
134 hours to 584 hours
£15m
£50,000 to £250,000 excluding VAT
(£60,000 to £300,000 including VAT)
167 hours to 834 hours
£20m
£70,000 to £300,000 excluding VAT
(£84,000 to £360,000 including VAT)
234 hours to 1,000 hours

3.1 Summary of work included – IHT Chargeable Estate

The above estimate includes the following work. You can find more information on the probate process as a whole in our bulletin “Bereavement”.

3.1.1 Taking initial instructions and sending you a copy of the deceased’s Will. Sending you a Probate Questionnaire.

3.1.2 Initial meeting with you to advise on the Will or intestacy rules, the administration process, discuss the Probate Questionnaire and advise you on your duties as executors/administrators of the deceased’s estate.

3.1.3 Advise you on your responsibilities, including checking whether the deceased’s property is secured and insured.

3.1.4 Arrange for valuations of the deceased’s real estate, chattels, investments, bank accounts, other shareholdings and any other assets which make up the estate as at the date of death.

3.1.5 Identifying and arranging valuations for assets owned by the deceased outside the jurisdiction of England and Wales and sourcing foreign legal advice in respect of obtaining probate for those assets in the jurisdiction concerned and the transfer of these assets to beneficiaries.

3.1.6 Identifying and arranging valuations of any trusts for which the deceased was a beneficiary at the date of death.

3.1.7 Ascertaining whether the deceased had an outstanding liabilities to the date of death and liaising with the creditors as necessary.

3.1.8 Advising in respect of any restitution for long term care funding incorrectly paid by the deceased.

3.1.9 Notifying the beneficiaries of their entitlements under the Will (if appropriate) and obtaining their identification.

3.1.10 Consider lifetime gifts made by the deceased and whether those affect the inheritance tax position for the surviving spouse. Liaising with beneficiaries of those lifetime gifts if necessary for further information and payment of any IHT due.

3.1.11 Writing to the relevant entities for information on utilities, council tax, house insurance and company shares if applicable.

3.1.12 Advising you in relation to any inheritance tax reliefs including (but not limited to) Business Property Relief, Agricultural Property Relief and Woodlands Relief.

3.1.13 Advising on claiming IHT allowances such as the IHT transferable nil-rate band and/ or the IHT residence nil-rate band as applicable. You can find more information on the IHT nil-rate band and these allowances on www.gov.uk/inheritance-tax and its related pages.

3.1.14 Advising on life insurance policies written in trust to provide funds for any IHT due, preparing any deeds or documents required to release the policy proceeds and advising, or seeking advice on, any chargeable events that the policies give rise to for tax purposes.

3.1.15 Registering statutory notices pursuant to s.27 Trustee Act 1925 to protect the executors against unknown claims and creditors.

3.1.16 Liaising with the deceased’s accountant to ascertain the deceased’s income tax position to the date of death.

3.1.17 Once valuations have been received, preparing the long-form IHT return (IHT400) and oath and advising on whether any IHT is payable.

3.1.18 If required, a second meeting with you to sign the IHT return and swear the oath.

3.1.19 Arranging for payment of any IHT due and liaising with asset holders (such as the deceased’s bank) to release funds for this purpose.

3.1.20 Submitting the IHT return to HMRC. Once HMRC have confirmed receipt, submitting the application to the Probate Registry to obtain the grant of probate.

3.1.21 Sending the grant of probate and letters of authority to the deceased’s financial institutions, collecting in the assets and paying any liabilities.

3.1.22 Dealing with and advising you on all correspondence with HMRC which could include queries on lifetime gifts, asset valuations (including liaising with the District Valuer and/ or Shares Valuation Division) and instructing experts to negotiate with HMRC if necessary. Routine follow-up with HMRC for responses as needed.

3.1.23 Corresponding with beneficiaries regarding the distribution of the estate, paying any interim legacies or any pecuniary legacies that are due under the Will.

3.1.24 Advising in respect of the sale of the deceased’s interest in a business or agricultural property;

3.1.25 Liaising with the deceased’s accountant concerning the income tax and capital gains tax position of the estate.

3.1.26 Preparing estate accounts for the executors and beneficiaries.

3.1.27 Running bankruptcy checks on beneficiaries before paying out funds to them.

3.1.28 Advising on any trusts created by the Will and liaising with the executors/ trustees on whether the trust assets are to be distributed as part of the administration of the estate. Preparing the relevant deeds as necessary.

3.1.29 Advising in respect of any assets that beneficiaries wish to redirect assets to alternative recipients and how this can be done efficiently from an IHT perspective including preparing and advising on any required Deeds of Variation to give effect to this redirection.

3.1.30 Paying the final balance out to the beneficiaries.

3.2 Disbursements

Please see section 2.2 and 2.3 for estimates of disbursements and information on potential additional costs and disbursements.

3.3 What is not included –  IHT Chargeable Estate

This costs information does not include advice on any of the following:-

3.3.1 advice about the income tax or capital gains tax position of the deceased in the period from 6 April to the date of their death;

3.3.2 the income tax or capital gains tax position of the estate during the administration period;

3.3.3 the legal work relating to the sale of the deceased’s main house or any other land or real estate property held at the death;

3.3.4 changes to legislation during course of estate administration;

3.3.5 financial advice on the suitability of the disposal of assets in the estate;

3.3.6 the personal taxation of estate beneficiaries;

3.3.7 tax planning for beneficiaries following receipt of their inheritance;

3.3.8 anything else not specifically identified in the ‘Summary of work included” above.

If applicable, we will price these and any other requirements separately for you.

3.4 Assumptions

It is important for you to appreciate that the costs information provided above for an IHT Chargeable Estate is based on various assumptions, including:-

3.4.1 there are no claims against the estate or disputes in respect of the estate whatsoever by relatives, creditors or any other person and no caveats are lodged at the Probate Registry;

3.4.2 there are no material disagreements amongst the beneficiaries and/or the trustees; and

3.4.3 the estate is solvent.

If any of these key assumptions are incorrect or change over time, we will need to provide you with a revised scope of work, revised timetable and revised fee estimate.

4. Who will carry out the work?

Your work may primarily be carried out by any of the solicitors or trainee solicitors in the Private Client Team and under the supervision of a partner or consultant who may also undertake work on the matter.

Following is a link to our hourly rates.

Click here.