With Scottish probate, if the deceased’s estate is valued over £30,000 at the time of their death, then a Grant of Confirmation usually needs to be applied for in order for the executor of the will to be able to carry out the probate process, much in the way that a Grant of Probate does in England.
Inheritance Tax laws still apply here, and so the estate must still be valued in order for the final tax to be calculated.
Executors have the role of valuing the estate, settling debts, paying tax and distributing the remainder of the assets in accordance with the deceased’s wishes as detailed in their will. However, distribution cannot take place until at least six months have passed after the death, to allow anyone with a potential claim on the estate to come forward.
Where no will was made, the next of kin must, similar to English law, apply for Confirmation from the Sherriff Court to allow them to act as executor. Details of the distribution are to be followed according to The Succession Act 1964. In addition however, the executor must also obtain a bond of caution from an insurance company, to guarantee that they will distribute the assets in accordance with The Succession Act.
There are statutory Court fees for issuing confirmation in Scotland. If the value of the estate is £5001 or more a fee of £200 is payable to the Sheriff Court, for estates with a value of £5000 or less, there is no fee. You must calculate how many official copies of the certificate you are likely to require. Certificates of confirmation are £5 each. The statutory probate fees will need to be enclosed with your application.
If you decide that you don’t want to go it alone, you’ll need to employ the services of a probate practitioner and will incur legal fees. Legal fees for probate services vary considerably. Banks and solicitors charge between 1-4% of the estate value. This can work out very costly and is not always a fair way of calculating a price for probate. This is because the size of the estate doesn’t necessarily reflect the amount of work that must be carried out to administer it. For example, more work is required to wind up 2 separate bank accounts rather than 1 single account, regardless of the amounts that are involved.
Some solicitors offer their services for an hourly rate or a rate per task. This can be risky. As the fee isn’t fixed, you really have no guarantee how much the final bill will be which can lead to problems later on. As an executor you are responsible for mistakes and can be made liable by beneficiaries for anything that can be deemed as an unjustified expense. This includes excessive legal costs. When probate fees are fixed in advance there can be no arguments. Plus, you don’t want to feel like you’re on a meter if there’s a problem or you need extra help and advice. Some solicitors will charge extra for every phone-call, email and letter they must send.
Last week, IWC announced that our services now extend to Scottish probate. We offer a low-cost, fixed fee probate service. Our rates are calculated based on the amount of work that must be carried out, rather than as a percentage of the estate. Fees are agreed in advance and payment can normally be settled from the estate later. Practitioners are highly qualified and our inclusive service includes help and advice when you need it, without extra charges.
You can find full details about our Scottish Probate Service or call our helpline for more information on 0800 612 6105.