Cost is one of the most important factors when deciding whether to instruct professionals to help you make a Will, appoint an Attorney, set up a Trust or administer an estate. That is why we aim to be as open as we can in terms of our charges and the processes involved in the hope that this helps you to make important decisions and gives you the confidence you need to let us advise and guide you.
How do I make a Will?
We offer a calm and informed environment where you can discuss how you would like your assets to pass. One of our specialist solicitors will talk through your wishes and options. We aim to send you a draft of your new Will for approval within 10 working days from our initial consultation. If, preparing the first draft is going to take longer due to complexities, we will advise you.
When you receive the draft of your new Will it can be reviewed and refined until you are happy that it meets with your wishes. Once your Will has been signed, we offer a free secure storage service.
How much does a Will cost?
Our standard fixed fee for a simple individual Will is £215 plus VAT and £395 plus VAT for simple mirror Wills (e.g. where a husband, wife or partner each leave their estate to the other with identical replacement provisions).
If your Will is going to be more complex (for example, if you need comprehensive inheritance tax advice or wish to include complicated trust arrangements) then we charge according to the time we spend and our charges normally range from £300 plus VAT for a single Will and from £500 plus VAT for mirror Wills. Our hourly rates are set out towards the bottom of this page.
For simple alterations to a Will that we have previously drafted, our fees are from £95 plus VAT.
If, it becomes necessary to change the way in which you own your property with another person in order to give effect to your testamentary wishes, we will prepare the necessary Notice of Severance and deal with the Land Registry requirements for £150 plus VAT if matters are agreed. If severance is disputed, our fees will be £200 plus VAT plus any costs charged by a process server (if required). More information on property ownership types can be found at paragraph 5.3 of our Residential Conveyancing Terms.
Why should I make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Having Lasting Powers of Attorney (‘LPAs’) in place which appoint people you trust to help look after your property and finances and make decisions about your care for you can be reassuring and minimize any anxiety and stress should your health deteriorate to the extent that you need help.
We will take you through the process of choosing and appointing Attorneys as well as filling in the forms and completing registration of them. During the course of preparing your LPAs, we will invite you to think about your assets generally and what you would like to safeguard in the event that you cannot make decisions for yourself in the future.
How much does it cost to make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
We offer a fixed fee service for preparing your Lasting Powers of Attorney. Our usual fee for preparing, certifying, completing and registering a single LPA (whether Property and Finance or Health and Welfare related) is £350 plus VAT plus a registration fee of £82 which is charged by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). If you would like to make both (a) Finance and Property and (b) Health and Welfare LPAs, our fee is discounted to £550 plus VAT plus the OPG registration fees. Where a couple instruct us to prepare all four LPAs, our fee is discounted to £1,000 plus VAT and OPG registration fees. These fees include us acting as your Certificate provider (if desired).
Whilst notifying third parties of your intention to appoint an Attorney under a Lasting Power of Attorney is no longer necessary, we can carry out this additional service for £100 plus VAT to cover our costs for preparing and completing the necessary notification letters and formalities.
What if I have an older, Enduring Power of Attorney?
So long as an Enduring Power of Attorney was properly signed off when it was made, it can still be registered if the Donor has since lost capacity and now needs assistance from their nominated Attorney to manage their property and financial affairs. Our fee for registering an Enduring Power of Attorney is £150 plus VAT and the OPG registration fee of £82. Registration usually takes around 6-10 weeks from the date of submission of the documentation to the OPG.
Please note that OPG fees are correct as at December 2018 and, whilst we endeavor to update our website regularly to take account of changes, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/power-of-attorney-fees for the latest information and details about fee exemptions and remissions.
What is Probate?
Simply put, probate is the process of sorting out the estate and affairs of somebody who has died. This is commonly called “administering the estate”. A formal “grant” is often required from the Court as it allows the assets of the Estate to be collected. Before any distribution of the estate can be made to the beneficiaries, all the liabilities, taxes and expenses of the estate must first be settled. Probate is one aspect of estate administration. Not all estates require Probate but all estates need to be administered.
How much does it cost?
The majority of our probate work is charged according to the time we spend plus value basis and this is the recommended Law Society formula.
Our hourly rates are set out below.
Partner: £225 per hour plus VAT
Consultant Solicitor/Solicitor: £200 per hour plus VAT
Senior Litigation Executive: £200 per hour plus VAT
Litigation Executive: £175 per hour plus VAT
Trainee Solicitor: £140 per hour plus VAT
Legal Assistant: £110 per hour plus VAT
The Law Society recommends a supplementary fee called ‘value’ which represents 0.75% of the gross value of the estate (or 1.5% if we are the appointed Executors). This fee represents the increased risk we take on when administering estates. Where value is charged, we will advise you of the likely fee once the estate assets and liabilities have been ascertained.
It is difficult to estimate the costs for administering an estate and give accurate timescales for dealing with matters because the work required in each case can vary greatly. For instance, much can depend upon the nature of the estate the person left behind; the different types of assets involved (including business or foreign assets);; the contents of the Will (which could include a trust or chartable beneficiaries); if there is no Will then then it will be necessary to identify (and sometimes trace) the beneficiaries; and what taxation issues need to be considered and dealt with. The more aspects or complexities there are to deal with, the more complicated and lengthy unravelling and completing the estate will be.
As a guide however, our costs for administering straightforward estates are usually in the region of £3,000 to £6,000 plus VAT and £6,000 - £12,000 plus VAT for more complex estates. For very complicated estates our fees can be upwards of £15,000 plus VAT. As soon as possible after discussing your particular requirements during our initial consultation, however, we will give you a more definitive guide to our likely costs before we undertake any work on your behalf. Please note that our fees do not include any third-party payments we have to make on your behalf (known as ‘disbursements’) e.g. probate court fees.
Where we undertake full administration of the estate, our fees include: providing initial advice upon the likely issues arising during the administration; obtaining/arranging valuations for the assets; computing the Inheritance Tax liability; preparing and applying for the formal grant; paying the debts and taxes and dealing with HM Revenue & Customs; discharging any legacies and/or making interim distributions; transferring/encashing assets; arranging for the preparation of tax returns, preparing full estate accounts, distributing the remaining assets, and closing down the estate.
If, during the administration period, claims are made against the estate which are disputed, or the validity of the Will is in question and an estate becomes ‘contentious’, matters then become more complicated which will require additional time and work to resolve the issues and enable the administration to progress. If necessary (for example where beneficiaries bring court proceedings), we will refer the estate to our litigation team who will be able to advise you. In those circumstances, litigation charges will apply in addition to our probate fees. If this type of situation appears likely, we will advise you as soon as we are able to do so.
In addition to the above, we also offer several fixed fee services: -
Obtaining the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration only: -
- For ‘excepted’ estates (using a short form IHT205 Return) where the gross value of the estate for probate purposes is less than the nil rate band allowance, there is no transfer of unused nil rate band, no residence nil rate band allowance is being claimed, and no lifetime gifts have been made within seven years of the date of death: £2,000 plus VAT
- For estates requiring a longer form full IHT Return IHT400 where there is no transfer of unused nil rate band, no residence nil rate band allowance is being claimed, no lifetime gifts have been made within seven years of the date of death and there is no IHT payable: £3,500 plus VAT
Any disbursements (i.e. third-party costs) we incur will be payable in addition to our fees. Under fixed fee arrangements, once the grant has been obtained, the executors or administrators will be wholly responsible for taking over the administration of the estate.
Unless an estate is less than £5,000, the Court fee for the application for a grant submitted by solicitors is currently £155. Extra copies of the grant cost £0.50p each (which are needed to send to financial institutions). There is also a small fee to swear the Oath which accompanies the application for a grant which is in the region of £7 - £15 per person applying. Should the fee structure for applications change, we will update our site as information becomes available.
Court fees referred to on our website are correct as at December 2018 and, whilst we endeavor to update our website regularly to take account of changes, please visit https://www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance/applying-for-a-grant-of-representation for the latest information and details about probate fees (please note that applications currently submitted by solicitors on behalf of Executors or Administrators are reduced from £215 to £155).
Please note that the probate pricing figures referred to on this page are averages and are intended as guidelines only; they do not and cannot take into account any unusual, unexpected or unforeseeable circumstances. Our hourly rates are reviewed on 31 October in each year.
What is a trust?
A trust is a legal arrangement whereby property is held by one or more people or a company who hold the money, property or other assets for the benefit of others. A ‘Settlor’ places assets into a trust and ‘Trustees’ control those assets in order to maximise and preserve value for the ‘Beneficiaries’.
There are many different types of trust and you can set them up during your lifetime (‘Lifetime Chargeable Trusts’ or in your Will (‘Testamentary Trusts’). Taxation of trusts can be complicated and the costs of each one depend on the value of the assets being placed into trust, the relationship between the Settlor and the Beneficiaries and the length of time those assets intend to be held on trust. Often, however, the price that tax represents is worth paying if it helps to ensure the ongoing existence of trust assets (both income and capital) which may otherwise be lost or wasted due to poor money management.
Once a trust has been sent up, the hard work doesn’t stop there and Trustees may need additional services to help manage trust funds and the administrative tasks involved in carrying out their role properly.
How much does it cost to set up a trust?
Our fees in creating and winding up trusts again depend on the complexities of the assets and arrangements in question but as a minimum we would recommend budgeting for £1,000 plus VAT and disbursements. If off-shore elements are required, we would recommend seeking specialist investment advice which we can obtain on your behalf. Where a trust is to be testamentary, our fee will be included in the charges payable for your Will.
We hope this information has been helpful. If you would like any further assistance or you would like to speak to one of our Private Client solicitors, please contact Simon Huggins, Joanna Menikou or Tora Leslie.