After-Death Administration and Probate
The death of someone you love is always hard, but it can be especially difficult when they have left behind lots of stress, paperwork and responsibilities. You may feel overwhelmed with the work needed to sort out their affairs and take care of everything before time runs out on important deadlines – such as paying inheritance tax or distributing the estate to impatient beneficiaries.
Isla Law can work with you on the estate administration process in a few different ways, depending on your needs.
Our process for after-death work is simple:
1. Initial Meeting – for new probate matters we ALWAYS offer a no-obligation 30 minute consultation at our expense. The first meeting is a simple conversation to find out where you need support and how we can reduce your stress as much as possible. We will provide clear advice about the terms of the deceased’s will or the intestacy provisions, as appropriate, so that you know exactly who is responsible for dealing with the estate and who will inherit what. At the end of the meeting, you can decide how you would like to work with us, depending on the level of support you need.
2. Choose your level of support
A: Full service If you want us to take everything off your hands, we can work with you on the entire administration of an estate. For example, we will value the estate, apply to the Court for a grant, liaise with all the beneficiaries, settle any debts, collect in all the assets and prepare estate accounts.
We often find that when families deal with an estate themselves, things can take longer because there is an emotional burden that goes alongside the admin. It can be very upsetting to go through paperwork and personal items that had belonged to the person who has died, and quite often this causes people to put things off and procrastinate. We act as an objective third party to move things forward, enabling the estate to be wrapped up quickly and without stress.
You will have a dedicated, qualified adviser who you can contact for updates whenever you want. But, although you will be kept in the loop at all stages, you will have the burden of dealing with the estate taken off your hands so that you can spend your precious time on the important things in life.
B: Limited service Just applying for the Grant We can deal with the formal legal application for a grant of probate or letters of administration for you. This is likely to involve us completing an inheritance tax return and probate application. You would take on some of the leg-work, such as getting valuations for the estate assets, and we will do the rest.
This is a more cost-effective option, but it does mean that you will have to do more of the work!
The application will be different depending on various factors, such as whether or not there is a valid Will, and the value of the estate.
C: You deal with the estate administration We will be honest with you in the first meeting and, if the estate administration is going to be very simple (sometimes you don’t even need a grant of probate / letters of administration!) we will let you know that. You might then choose to deal with the estate administration yourself, and we will support you in that decision.
We can still help you with all the free resources in the knowledge centre and through our dedicated facebook group.
We also often end up helping executors on an ad hoc basis with various ‘odds and ends’, such as if you would like us to prepare estate accounts, or liaise with a particularly difficult beneficiary.
How much does probate cost?
We offer fixed fees starting from £600 plus VAT for limited grant only applications.
If you want us to deal with everything, we will do our best to provide you with a fixed fee quote at the end of the first meeting (subject to all the relevant information being available at that time). One of the reasons we offer you a free initial meeting is that we need to know quite a lot of information about the estate before we can provide you with a proper quote.
There will generally be a court fee to pay to get the grant, currently of £273 plus £1.50 for each copy of the grant.
For a standard estate administration, where there are just a few assets, a straightforward family and no inheritance tax, it is likely to cost you in the region of £3,000 to £5,000 plus VAT and disbursements to work with us dealing with the entire estate from start to finish.
We charge based on the time it is likely to take us to deal with the estate, and not on a percentage of the estate or open-ended hourly rate ‘costs estimate’
The things that might affect our fees include: – Is there a valid Will? If not, the intestacy rules will apply. Sometimes, this can make things more complicated, especially if the estate ends up passing to distant relatives.
– Can you find the original Will? If not, a copy of the Will can be accepted by the Courts, but this often involves more processes and admin, and will make the estate more complicated and expensive.
– Are minors involved? This can sometimes make things more challenging as minors are unable to agree any changes to an estate, even if they would be eminently sensible.
– Is anyone likely to challenge the Will or intestacy? If so, we will need to give the executors very specific advice about protecting themselves and administering the estate particularly carefully. If there is a dispute, the matter would need to be referred to specialist dispute resolution lawyers, increasing the time involved in the estate administration.
– Are there any foreign assets or foreign Wills? If the answer is yes, we will need to carefully consider how those foreign elements interact with the English estate.
– How complicated and extensive are the assets? It will take us much less time to deal with a few large assets (e.g. a million pound house and single bank account) than it will to deal with numerous small assets (e.g. several small shareholdings, lots of different bank accounts, NS&I products and a house), even if the first estate is of a higher value.
– Will inheritance tax be payable? If so, we need to complete more complicated tax returns and make arrangements for the payment of tax – this increases time and costs.
Our fixed quote will take all the factors mentioned above and others into account, so please make sure you are prepared with as much information as possible at the first meeting.
The ONLY time we charge on an hourly rate is when we are asked to deal with ‘ad hoc’ work, where perhaps the family is dealing with the estate but need some legal input on a specific point. For this type of work, we charge on an hourly rate of between £150 and £200 plus VAT, depending on the level of qualification of your adviser.