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Applying for probate

Dealing with bereavement is a difficult time particularly if you have to make funeral arrangements and deal with the estate of a friend or family member.

Areas of specialism

- Applying for probate
- Acting as professional executors
- Advising on intestacy
- Estate administration and distribution to beneficiaries
- Inheritance tax
- Preparation of estate accounts for personal representatives
- Advising and preparing inheritance tax Rreturns to HM Revenue & Customs

Services offered

The private client department at Rutherfords LLP provides an understanding and efficient approach to handle estates for both executors and administrators to guide you with genuine expertise through the administration and to prepare the necessary tax returns and papers for applying for the grant of probate.

We offer a range of services including grant of probate only applications through to a full administration service for executors, and can provide advice and assistance at any stage of the administration of the estate.

Initial advice

To assist executors and administrators we offer a free 30 minute consultation with one of our private client team to discuss the administration of the estate.

This allows general advice to be provided to explain what this involves and what documents and enquiries will be necessary, and if a grant of probate is needed to administer the estate.

How do we charge?

We offer fixed fees for advice only appointments (in addition to the initial 30 minute free consultation) of £200 plus VAT(a total of £240) for one hour.

We also offer fixed fees for grant only applications as set out below.

For a full administration service our charges are based on the time taken to administer the estate. Since every estate is unique, we provide a range of costs in this guide to enable an executor to decide how much assistance they require so that we can tailor the estimate to your specific requirements.

The following fixed fees for a grant only service apply to estates with assets within the UK, the executors or administrators reside in England or Wales, the estate does not include business or partnership assets or significant digital assets, and the assets of the estate are not in dispute or there is no potential challenge by a disappointed beneficiary.


Grant only service – non-taxable estate

Who is this suitable for?

This is a service for executors who require help to obtain the grant of probate for straightforward estates where no inheritance tax is payable but who wish to collect assets and pay debts and administer the estate themselves.

How much does this service cost?

Fixed fee of £750 (plus VAT).

This includes: preparing the estate tax return IHT205, drafting the oath for the executor to approve, applying to the District Probate Registry and obtaining the grant of probate.

Breakdown of costs:

Legal fees £750

VAT on legal fees £150

Disbursements:

Probate court fee of £155.

Official copies of the grant £3 (for 6 sealed copies at 0.50p)

£7 swearing of the oath (per executor).*

Oath settling fee (£12 to £15)

Official copy of property register (£3)

*There is no fee for a statement of truth which is now being introduced by the Probate Registry

Disbursements (plus VAT where applicable) are payable in addition to our costs.


Grant only service – taxable estate

Who is this suitable for?

This is a service for executors who require help to obtain the grant of probate for more complex estates where inheritance tax is payable (or would be payable without claiming tax relief or exemptions), and a full inheritance tax account IHT400 and supplementary schedules are required, but who wish to collect assets and pay debts and administer the estate themselves.

How much does this service cost?

Fixed fee of £1,500 (plus VAT).

This includes: preparing the estate tax return IHT400 and supplementary schedules, calculating the inheritance tax payable, considering reliefs and exemptions to reduce the tax, claiming tax relief, applying to HM Revenue & Customs to agree the tax liability and arranging for payment of tax, submitting the probate summary IHT421, drafting the oath for the executor to approve, applying to the District Probate Registry and obtaining the grant.

Breakdown of costs:

Legal fees £1,500

VAT on legal fees £300

Disbursements:

Probate court fee of £155.

Official copies of the grant £3 (for 6 sealed copies at 0.50p)

£7 swearing of the oath (per executor).*

Oath settling fee (£12 to £15)

Official copy of property register (£3)

*There is no fee for a statement of truth which is now being introduced by the Probate Registry

Disbursements (plus VAT where applicable) are payable in addition to our costs.

Probate – full administration service

Who is this suitable for?

This is a service for executors and administrators who require the reassurance of professional advice and assistance throughout the administration from obtaining initial instructions through to the distribution of assets to beneficiaries.

What does this service include?

We can help you through this difficult process by obtaining the Grant of Probate on your behalf and administering the estate.

The following services are included:

Making enquiries of assets and liabilities

Obtaining probate valuations (which may include obtaining property and share valuations or valuations of house contents)

Preparing a balance sheet of assets and liabilities for your approval

Preparing the inheritance tax return

Calculating the inheritance tax payable by the estate

Considering the availability of tax relief and exemptions including spouse exemption, transferable nil rate bands and residence nil rate bands

Drafting the oath for executors and applying for the grant of probate

Collecting assets and arranging for payment of debts and liabilities

Serving Trustee Act notices (if appropriate) to protect executors from unknown creditors

Corresponding with HM Revenue & Customs in relation to inheritance tax, income tax and capital gains tax

Distributing assets

Arranging the sale or transfer of shares (by instructing a stockbroker if necessary)

Arranging the sale of property (if appropriate)

Arranging the transfer of assets to beneficiaries (including the assent of property)

Completing the application to HM Land Registry to register the legal title to property

Holding funds on the client bank account (to avoid the need for a separate executor`s account)

Notifying beneficiaries of their inheritance

Verifying the identity of beneficiaries

Paying legacies and obtaining signed receipts

Preparing estate accounts for the approval of executors

Accounting to the residuary beneficiaries (cheque or direct bank transfer).

How much does this service cost?

Our fees are based on the time taken to conclude the matter.

We do not charge a percentage of the estate as part of our fees.

The administration of an estate covers the period from when initial instructions are received from the executors to when estate accounts are prepared for the approval of executors and assets distributed to the beneficiaries.

The exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter. For this reason we can only provide a range of likely costs. For example, if there is one beneficiary and no property, costs will be at the lower end of the range. If there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, costs will be at the higher end.

The range of costs below is a guide.

Level 1 pricing structure - £3,000 to £5,000 (excluding VAT)

We will handle the full process for you.

This is intended to cover relatively straightforward estates where:

There is a valid will

The executors reside within England & Wales

There is no more than one property

There are no more than 6 bank or building society accounts

There are no digital assets

There are between one and six residuary beneficiaries

There are no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets

There are no claims made against the estate

No deed of variation is required

Disbursements

Disbursements are costs payable to third parties during the administration such as Probate Registry fees or Land Registry fees.

Disbursements (plus VAT where applicable) are payable in addition to our costs.

Typical disbursements are:

Probate application fee of £155

Additional sealed copies of the grant (£0.50)

£7 Swearing of the oath (per executor)

Official copy of property register (£3)

Bankruptcy Land Charges Department searches (£2 per beneficiary)

£62.15 (+ vat) Trustee Act notice in The London Gazette – protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors

£87.50 (including vat) Trustee Act notice in a local newspaper (this price may vary according to the particular newspaper) – protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors

Property valuations by local agent (£150 + vat unless instructed in the sale)

Stockbrokers fees for share valuation (£50 to £200 depending upon the size and type of share portfolio)

Potential additional costs

If there is no will or the estate consists of considerable share holdings (stocks and bonds) there is likely to be additional costs for the sale or transfer of shareholdings that could range significantly depending on the estate and how it is to be dealt with. We can give you a more accurate quote once we have more information.

If an additional copy of the grant is required it will cost £10.00 plus £0.50 for each additional copy.

Dealing with the sale or transfer of any property in the estate is not included and a separate fixed cost can be provided by our residential conveyancing department.

Level 2 pricing structure - £5,000 to £10,000 (excluding VAT)

We will handle the full process for you.

This is intended to cover more complex estates or complexities in the will including trusts which may include multiple properties, multiple bank accounts, personal possessions that may require individual valuations, and where a full estate tax return IHT400 and supplemental schedules are required.

In additional to the services set out above, the following additional services are included:

Obtaining probate valuations of all properties

Instructing a RICS surveyor to value property (if appropriate)

Completing full inheritance tax account IHT400

Calculating inheritance tax and interest payable

Completing probate summary form IHT421

Meetings with executors to discuss and agree tax returns and calculations

Arranging for the payment of inheritance tax (and direct payment scheme if appropriate)

Corresponding with HM Revenue & Customs and the District Valuer

Reporting and amendments and preparing corrective tax account (if appropriate)

Considering if capital gains tax is payable on disposal on assets during the administration

Calculating savings and dividend income and declaring tax under the informal procedure

Initial advice concerning potential claims against the estate including Inheritance Act claims for reasonable financial provision and relevant limitation periods

If ongoing will trusts, providing initial advice and arranging to transfer assets to the trustees

Disbursements

Disbursements are costs payable to third parties during the administration such as Probate Registry fees or Land Registry fees.

Disbursements (plus VAT where applicable) are payable in addition to our costs.

In addition to the disbursements detailed under level 1 costs above, this may include the following additional disbursements:

RICS valuation reports (£500 + vat)

Valuations of house contents (£200 + vat)

Level 3 pricing structure – from £10,000 (excluding VAT)

This is intended to cover complex estate administrations which will include aspects of the work outlined for level 1 and level 2 cover above, where they maybe one or more of the following:

Issues regarding the validity of the last will

Executors who do not reside in England or Wales

Beneficiaries who do not reside in the UK

Overseas property or bank accounts

Business or partnership assets

Agricultural property

Commercial or investment properties

Applications for business property relief (BPR)

Applications for agricultural property relief (APR)

Issues regarding the domicile of the deceased

Potential claims for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance Act

Potential claims by disappointed beneficiaries

Claims by the Department for Work & Pensions relating to lifetime benefits

Tracing beneficiaries and instructing an enquiry agent

Complex intestate administrations

DNA testing of beneficiaries

Estate planning and deeds of variation

Considering tax planning and elections for inheritance tax and capital gains tax

How long will this take?

On average, estates are administered within 3 to 12 months (known as the executor`s year) depending upon the number and complexity of assets. The time period can be longer if the inheritance calculation or valuations are challenged by HMRC, or there is a property to be sold before the administration can be concluded.

Typically, obtaining the grant of probate takes around 10 working days after the application is made to the Probate Registry.

Our service to you

As part of our costs we will:

Provide you with a dedicated and experienced probate solicitor to supervise the work on your matter

Provide you with a dedicated team of probate lawyers and support staff

Provide regular updates to you by telephone, email or letter

Provide advice throughout the administration on the legal and practical issues of probate

Be available for face to face meetings

Access to a fixed price conveyancing service if property is sold by the estate

Access to a fixed price will service for executors or beneficiaries

Quality assurance – we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority

Quality assurance – we are accredited by the Law Society for Lexcel (legal practice quality mark)

Accountability - Internal complaints service

Accountability - Access to the Legal Ombudsman if you are dissatisfied with our service

Our Private Client Team

The private client team consists of the following members:

Tony Illsley

Tony Illsley is a partner and head of the private client department. A solicitor for more than 28 years with a strong litigation background and more than 11 years’ experience in charge of private client matters acting as a professional executor and trustee, attorney and court appointed deputy.

Panel solicitor for the Midlands Air Ambulance and NFWN.

Main caseload includes taxable estates, higher value estates, or estates with potential claims or complexity.

Current hourly rate £240 plus VAT.

Rebecca Taylor

Rebecca Taylor is a chartered legal executive (CILEx) qualified more than 3 years ago with private client experience of nearly 10 years.

Rebecca supports head of department Tony Illsley with taxable estates and high value claims in addition to running her own caseload of estate files and probate applications (including non-taxable estates), wills and lasting powers of attorney.

Current hourly rate £190 plus VAT.

Sarah Hassall

Sarah Hassall is a senior paralegal with a background of over 22 years in the banking and finance sector and over 12 years private client experience.

Sarah assists partner Tony Illsley with estate and trust administration (particularly high value and more complex cases) as well as the day to day management of the wills and lasting powers of attorney team.

Current hourly rate £150 plus VAT

Natasha Bartosik

Natasha Bartosik is a private client paralegal with a law degree and ILEX certificate with nearly 4 years’ experience in private client work.

Natasha works as assistant to the head of department and deals with administration of estates (non-taxable), grants of probate, preparing estate accounts and accounting to beneficiaries.

Current hourly rate £125 plus VAT.

Emily Hawley

Emily Hawley is a legal secretary acting as a non-fee earner in the private client department with a law degree currently studying for a paralegal qualification.

Emily supports the head of department and regularly speaks to clients and beneficiaries.


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