What is involved in administering an estate and how long will it take?
No two people’s financial affairs are exactly the same and, therefore, the administration of each estate will be different. Nevertheless, the administration of most estates involves the following stages and usually takes between 6 and 12 months to complete:
- Notifying all of the relevant institutions about the death.
- Establishing the size and nature of the estate.
- Preparing the application for a grant of representation, arranging for it to be executed and submitting it to the Probate Registry and HM Revenue & Customs.
- Arranging for any inheritance tax to be paid.
- Dealing with any queries raised by the Probate Registry in relation to the application for a grant of representation.
- Registering the grant of representation with all of the relevant institutions.
- Collecting in the assets of the estate.
- Discharging any liabilities.
- Finalising the tax affairs to the date of death and settling the tax position for the administration period.
- Preparing a set of estate accounts and arranging for them to be approved.
- Distributing the estate.
What are our charges for administering the whole estate?
We aim to offer a number of pricing options for you to choose from in relation to our fee for dealing with the administration of an estate. Since each option is specifically tailored to your particular requirements, it is difficult to give you an exhaustive list of the full range that may be available. However, some of the more frequently used ones are set out below:
- To charge an hourly rate for the time spent dealing with the administration of the estate.
- To charge a reduced hourly rate for the time spent, plus a fixed fee based on a percentage of the value of the estate.
- To charge a fixed fee based on a percentage of the value of the estate.
The first option means that our fee will be determined entirely by the amount of time that we spend dealing with the administration of estate. As such, the less work that is involved then the lower the fee will be and vice versa. On the other hand, the third option provides you with the certainty of knowing in advance exactly how much our fee will be regardless of what happens during the administration process. The second option is a hybrid of the other two and offers some of the advantages of both.
As stated above, the size and nature of each estate is different and, therefore, it is very difficult to give an indication of what our fee would be without knowing all of the details of the actual case. Nevertheless, we would expect that our fee for dealing with the administration of an estate worth between £500,000.00 and £1 million and comprising of a house, half a dozen bank accounts and a shareholding would be between £6,000.00 and £10,500.00 plus VAT if the first pricing option was chosen. If the second option was selected then the likely fee would be between £8,250.00 and £12,750.00 plus VAT and if the third one was picked then the fee would be £15,000.00 plus VAT. These fee estimates do not include:
- Any disbursements (see below).
- Any taxes (other than VAT).
- Dealing with the sale of the property or the transfer of it to the beneficiaries.
- Completing the tax returns to the date of death or for the administration period.
What sort of factors might result in our fee being higher?
If you chose a pricing option which is based entirely or partially on an hourly rate for the time spent dealing with the administration of the estate then our fee would be higher if, for example:
- The deceased died intestate (i.e. without leaving a valid will which disposed of all of his or her estate).
- There are more than four beneficiaries, any of the beneficiaries are children or the whereabouts of any of the beneficiaries is unknown.
- There are any disputes between the beneficiaries in relation to the distribution of the estate assets.
- There is inheritance tax to pay.
Such factors could also result in the administration of the estate taking longer to complete.
What are our charges if you only want us to obtain a grant of representation and how long will it take?
You may feel able to deal with most of the administration of the estate personally and only require our assistance with the actual application for a grant of representation. If this is the case, you would have to provide us with all of the information we need in order to prepare the application. We would arrange for the application to be signed by the relevant parties and then submit it to the Probate Registry. Once the grant of representation had been obtained then we would send it to you so that you can complete the administration yourself. This process typically takes between 6 and 12 weeks.
If you only require us to obtain a grant of representation then this can usually be done for a fixed fee. If an abbreviated inheritance tax account can be submitted as part of the application for the grant then our fee will be £950.00 plus VAT. However, if a full inheritance tax account needs to be submitted then the work will normally be charged out on a time recorded basis and we would expect our fee to be between £1,500.00 and £2,000.00 plus VAT. Whether an abbreviated account or a full account is required essentially depends on the value and complexity of the estate being administered.
Who will carry out the work and how much do they charge?
The work that you instruct us to do will be carried out by an appropriately qualified member of the wills and probate team. Details of the members of the team can be found in the Our People section of this website. The hourly rate charged by each member of the team varies depending on their level of experience, the complexity of the matter being handled by them and other relevant factors such as the timescale in which the work must be completed. The hourly rates currently charged by the team range from £200.00 to £350.00 plus VAT and are reviewed on an annual basis.
Will there be anything else to pay in addition to our fee?
We will often have to pay out expenses for goods or services provided by third parties to our clients. These are called “disbursements”.
Whether you instruct us to simply obtain the grant of representation or deal with the administration of the entire estate, there will be a fee payable to the Probate Registry for issuing the grant. The fee is currently is £155.00, plus £0.50 for each official copy of the grant supplied.
Additional disbursements may be payable if we are instructed to deal with the administration of the entire estate. These are likely to be the cost of placing statutory advertisements in both a local newspaper and the London Gazette (a total of between about £250.00 and £350.00) and a bankruptcy search in relation to each of the beneficiaries (£1.00 each).
We would usually instruct an accountant to complete the tax returns to the date of death and for the administration period.