Some Advice About Fixed Fee Probate
If someone close to you has passed away, the chances are, you’re not in the best mind-set to consider all the financial implications of death. When faced with probate, the first task for many families is to appoint a professional to deal with the legal and financial aspects on their behalf.
It is wise to agree a price for probate services in advance, so you know exactly what the legal costs will be. Here are some questions to ask to ensure you appoint the right practitioner when looking for a fixed fee probate company.
Are they Qualified?
Unfortunately, there are no legal requirements for firms to offer probate and will writing services. Therefore you may find that a practitioner offering a cheap fixed fee does not have any legal qualifications. Choose a STEP member (The Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners) to ensure that the company has the appropriate qualifications.
Are they Reputable?
They may have a professional website but do they have the reputation to back up their claims? Study reviews, testimonials and do a check on the company to make sure they’ve no skeletons. Make sure they are fully insured too.
Is the Fixed Fee a Percentage of the Estate?
A company may quote a fixed fee but if this is calculated as a percentage of the estate value, you could be paying much more than you need too. Companies and financial institutions that do this tend to charge between 1-4% of the estate which can work out extremely costly. Choose a firm that calculates fees fairly, based on the amount of work they have to do. If you have a high value estate that is relatively straight-forward, eg just 2 beneficiaries with funds contained in 1 or 2 bank accounts, you have the potential to save thousands.
What about Extra Charges?
Double check and read all small print that the fee is indeed fixed. Some companies will charge a fixed fee then add £s onto the final bill. This could be a fixed fee plus an hourly rate or fixed fee probate but hourly rates for administrating the estate.
Will they Provide Free Advice Whilst Dealing with your Case?
Probate can be a long, drawn out affair. In some cases in can last years. If your case is relatively complicated or you feel there may be a dispute, ensure you’ll not be charged any extra for further legal advice and help. Once again, it’s imperative to find out exactly what the service includes. You need to be able to pick up the phone to the practitioner and know you’re not on a meter each time you need an update or little extra help.