cost of probate

Probate and banks – a varied service

 

It seems that there is no standard provision of service among banks, for those who are looking to settle their deceased loved one’s financial affairs.
 
A newspaper reported a case whereby a lady had bank accounts with Halifax, Barclays and Nationwide.
 
After the lady’s death, her executor arrived at Halifax with the necessary documentation, including ID, her will, her death certificate and an invoice for the funeral costs. As this was a relatively small estate, staff quickly and sensitively processed the necessary information, closed the accounts and provided the executor with a balancing cheque.
 
It was a different story however, at the latter two banks who between them, had to pass the request to a different department, then asked for probate to be produced and a completed authority and personal indemnity form to be sent to them by post, adding considerable delay to what should have been a relatively straightforward procedure.
 
Carrying out your role as executor can sometimes be more complicated and take a greater length of time then absolutely necessary. In these instances, seeking the help of a knowledgeable and experienced probate practitioner can be helpful.  At IWC we will also give you an accurate cost for probate before we undertake any work.

The cost of dying falls

 

First the bad news – recent figures show that the basic cost of a funeral has risen for the ninth year in a row, now coming in at around £3,284.  This figure incorporates burial costs, cremation costs and funeral director fees.
 
The good news however, is that all other costs for funerals, such as the cost of probate services, headstones and flowers, have all fallen, taking the overall cost of dying to just over £7000.
 
Although this is excellent news for cash strapped families who are often left to foot the bill; for many, the need to find several thousand pounds is simply unrealistic and the government’s Social Fund is vital in these circumstances. However, with so many making demands upon this fund, it is debatable whether it will continue to be available without enforcing stricter criteria.
 
So what is the answer? Adults are being advised to take out a funeral plan now, to ensure that money will be available to fund their funeral when the inevitable happens, rather than placing their loved ones under further financial stress. Funeral plans should always be discussed when planning your estate.

Keeping the cost of probate down

The vast majority (about 70%) of those who need assistance with the administration of a will, turn to a professional. In many cases the firm involved may have helped with the writing of the will and been named as executors as part of this process. If so they will be responsible for administering the estate and establishing the amount that is to be charged cost of probate.
 
Probate fees are generally paid from the estate and come in on average between 2 – 5%, or between £3000-£5000. Of course these figures vary greatly depending on the size of the estate and the number of beneficiaries in the will. There are other factors which may slow the process down and consequently drive the costs up.
 
If a solicitor or bank has been employed to execute a will then there are a few key tips to be aware of in order to ensure that you keep the probate fees to a minimum.  It is worth noting that the value of the estate should have no bearing on the costs. You should request a quotation for the work in advance.  In most cases you will be told that this is impossible as there are too many variables involved.
 
It is true that there are elements of the process which may be difficult to predict, but any solicitor, or bank, that has been through the process before should be able to give you a reasonably close approximation of costs. Once they have you should insist on being allowed to find an alternative and then ask if they can match any lower price.
 
In order to ensure that the process is done as quickly and efficiently as possible make sure that you stay on top of all of the paperwork and keep meetings and other communication to an absolute minimum.
 
In order to maximise the value of the estate it is worth investing in any properties to be sold as part of the administration process. This will help ensure that the properties are sold quickly, which will keep the fees down, and should also help to realise their maximum value.
 
The best way to keep costs to a minimum is by using a fixed-fee probate service that gives you a clear price up front and a supportive service along the way. To find out more call our free advice line 0800 612 6105 open until 10pm, 7 days a week.

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