Edward Cursham

Partner

Wills, Trusts and Probate

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Private Client Price Structure

Fraser Brown can assist personal representatives in dealing with an estate, either by applying for the grant of representation to allow you to administer the estate, or by dealing with the complete administration from start to finish on your behalf.

How much will each service cost?

Fraser Brown’s costs are primarily charged on the basis of time spent by the individual fee earners. Hourly rates which are currently charged by fee earners within the department are as follows:-

  • Director of the firm: £195 to £250 plus VAT (£234 to £300 including VAT)
  • Solicitors: £160 to £220 plus VAT (£192 to £274 including VAT)
  • Senior legal assistants and probate executives: £110 to £160 plus VAT (£132 to £192 including VAT)
  • Legal assistants and trainee solicitors: up to £125 plus VAT (up to 150 including VAT)

Cases where we are instructed solely to apply for the grant of representation and all assets are located in England and Wales.

This will include completing the inheritance tax return and obtaining the grant of representation. The estimated costs would usually be between £750 plus disbursements and VAT and £1,800 plus disbursements and VAT (£900 to £2,160 including VAT plus disbursements). Costs would usually be at the lower end of the estimate where there is a will, there is no inheritance tax to pay and there are no other complicating factors. Costs may be towards the higher end of the estimate where there is no will, where inheritance tax is payable or where there are complicating factors such as lifetime gifts and lifetime trusts. This is not exhaustive and we will be happy to discuss your matter with you to provide a more accurate estimate tailored to your situation.

Cases where we are instructed to deal with the administration of the estate where all assets are located in England and Wales.

This will include completing the inheritance tax return, applying for the grant of representation, collecting in the assets, paying the liabilities and distributing the estate. Costs are usually between £1,500 plus disbursements and VAT and £20,000 plus disbursements and VAT (£1,800 to £24,000 including VAT plus disbursements). Costs will vary depending upon the complexity of the matter. It is not often that costs for dealing with the administration of an estate exceed £10,000 plus disbursements and VAT (£12,000 including VAT plus disbursements).

For an estate where, for example, there is one property, two bank accounts and a will leaving everything equally between two children, we would expect the costs to be at the lower end of the estimate.

For an estate where there is a property, several bank accounts with different organisations, shareholdings and a will leaving some small gifts and then splitting the balance equally between several beneficiaries, typical costs might be in the region of £2,500 to £4,000 plus VAT (£3,000 - £4,800 including VAT).

For a complex estate which is subject to inheritance tax and/or involves several properties, numerous bank accounts, investments, shareholdings, and several different beneficiaries, the costs would be higher.

The following factors will increase the time required on the matter and therefore the costs charged:

  • No will
  • More than one property
  • Numerous accounts/investments/shareholdings with different organisations
  • A large number of specific gifts (known as legacies) left under the will
  • A large number of beneficiariesThe estate being subject to inheritance tax and/or a full account being required by HMRC
  • Income tax returns being required for the estate
  • Uncertainty as to the meaning or validity of a will
  • Disputes amongst beneficiaries
  • Lifetime gifts which may be subject to inheritance tax

The costs estimates provided for all cases do not include:

  • Dealing with the sale of any property in the estate
  • Preparing a deed of variation in the estate
  • Dealing with any claims against the estate
  • Dealing with the re-sealing or obtaining of a grant of representation for use in a foreign country
  • Advice given in relation to the mitigation of tax for individual beneficiaries

Disbursements

Disbursements are fees charged by third parties during the course of the matter, such as the Probate Registry.

The following disbursements will be payable in addition to our fees set out above (those marked with a * will usually be payable only if we deal with the full administration and not if we only deal with an application for the grant of representation):

  • Probate Registry fee - £155 (plus 50p for each copy of the grant of representation)
  • Statutory newspaper notices* - These are optional and are to protect the executors against claims from unknown creditors – costs may vary from £100 - £400 depending on the assets held in the estate
  • Missing financial asset search* - This is optional and is a search for unknown National Savings, shareholdings and insurance policies that may form part of the estate

The government have recently published their intention to increase the fees payable on an application for the grant of representation. At present it is understood that fees which will be payable to the Probate Registry will, from a future unknown date (believed to be at some time in 2019), be as follows:

VALUE OF NET ESTATE

PROBATE REGISTRY FEE

Less than £50,000

£0

£50,001 to £300,000

£250

£300,001 to £500,000

£750

£500,001 to £1m

£2,500

Over £1m but not exceeding £1.6m

£4,000

Over £1.6m but not exceeding £2m

£5,000

Over £2m

£6,000

Value Element

In some estates we may also charge a ‘value element’ of up to 1.5% of the value of the assets in the estate. Whilst this is not appropriate in most cases, examples of situations where it may be charged are where Fraser Brown act as executors and take on an added degree of risk, or where our advice leads to a significantly reduced tax liability for the estate. This will be discussed in more detail when the details of the estate are known, but generally will not apply to straightforward estates.

Timescales

It is very difficult to give an accurate timescale for the administration of an estate, as all estates are different and often the timescales are dependent upon third parties providing information and responding to correspondence.

As an average, simple estates can be dealt with within 4-9 months. As an average, it can take 2-4 months to obtain a grant of representation.

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