Recent research by Saga has found that probate fees charged by solicitors and financial advisors vary widely, due to the common practice of naming themselves as executor whilst drawing up the individual’s will.
In this way, the solicitor or financial advisor can then charge up to 5% of the value of the person’s final estate – often earning themselves several thousand pounds in the process.
Although it is always advisable to seek the help of a probate specialist, executors should certainly shop around for probate services – particularly if the contents of the estate are relatively small or straightforward. Remember that you do not have to use the services of the person who drafted the will.
It is not necessary either, to use a solicitor or a financial advisor to undertake the probate process. Do some online research and seek testimonials or ask around and see which probate practitioners have provided an excellent service and real value for money.
The application for the Grant of Probate is a requirement on any estate which is valued over £5,000. The basic fee, payable to HM Courts & Tribunals Service is £105. Special applications for a duplicate, second or subsequent grant will cost £20. This is the same price as entering a Caveat, or depositing a will for safe custody with the probate registry.
As with everything else, the costs involved in probate have risen. The most recent revision occurred in April 2011, based on the rate of inflation there was an increase of around 20%. Further information on probate costs can be obtained from the directgov website. This breakdown is very useful for anyone trying to wade through an itemised bill from a solicitor, or bank.
Although the costs of these elements, which are paid to the probate registry, are generally quite basic, the process involved is time consuming. This will drive prices up, particularly if you are using a solicitor and paying an hourly rate.
Hourly charges range from £100 to around £350, plus VAT. A Legal Services Board report in July 2011 revealed that the average UK rate was £177 per hour. The average length of time billed for estate administration was 25 hours, which totals £5310 inc. VAT @ 20%.
This is relatively cheap compared with banks and solicitors who charge a fee based on the estate value. This is quoted as a percentage and varies between 1% (Saga), up to 4.5% (Barclays). It is considered an unfair way of pricing as the amount the estate is worth does not bear much relevance as to the amount of work involved.
If you would like to get further information on probate costs you can call us free on 0800 612 6105. Lines are open until 10pm, 7 days a week.
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.
As with many other price increases that we have seen in recent times, the basic costs of probate fees have also risen. From April 2011 the cost of probate applications went up by more than 10%. Currently the probate application fee for non-solicitors or lay applicants is £105 up from its previous figure of £90. This amount comprises £45 for the application for grant and a further £60 for the personal application which is effectively the cost of attending the probate registry.
Here’s a breakdown of Government will and probate fees:
The fee for depositing a will for safe custody in a district or principal registry is £20. The price of an inspection of a will or any other document in the presence of a registry officer is also £20.
An Application for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, where the assessed value of the estate exceeds £5,000, is £45. Resealing a grant costs the same.
A Personal application fee where the assessed value of the estate exceeds £5,000 is £60, this is essentially the cost to attend the registry.
A special application or duplicate/subsequent application in respect of the same person is £20. This includes an application following a revoked grant and excludes a grant limited to settled land, part of the estate, or to a trust property.
Copies of all documents involved have a surcharge regardless of whether they are provided as certified copies or not. For the first copy the charge is £6 and for every subsequent copy of the same document is £1 if they are supplied at the same time. If the documents are provided in electronic format the price per copy is £4.
You can view the Government report here which details all probate charges including searches, oaths and entering in a caveat.
If you have any other questions about the various costs involved, don’t hesitate to call us free on 0800 612 6105