Costs Information

Costs Information

The firm currently provides the following service for individuals covered by the SRA Transparency Rules on costs information – the collection and distribution of assets belonging to a person following their death, where these are within the UK and the matters are not contested.

When someone dies there are a number of things that have to be done very quickly including registering the death and planning the funeral. Once the immediate matters have been dealt with it is time to address the financial affairs of the deceased.

Probate is a legal term used to describe the legal process in dealing with the estate of someone who has died. When you die your executors, who you have appointed in your Will, have to carry out the instructions you gave them in your Will. If you die without a Will then your administrators will have to do the same thing.

Your executors (or administrators) may wish to seek the assistance and guidance of a professional to guide them through what can be a very difficult task. There can be long, complex forms to complete and the process can easily take over 12 months and so it is often less stressful to get a lawyer to do this for you. Sometimes an individual will appoint a professional to act alone or with a family member to administer their estate.

We, as solicitors, will be able to assist you in both circumstances and our costs will be calculated on the same basis whether we are acting for a professional or for an individual.

Our Fees

It is not easy to give a firm estimate for this type of work at the outset because every estate is different and it is not just the value of an estate that can make it more complicated. However, we can give you some idea of the costs involved and we will be able to update any estimate as we get a clearer idea of what is going to be involved.

We will also tell you who will work on the matter and what their charges would be.

We charge only on an hourly rate and not on a percentage value of the estate.

At JG Poole & Co LLP the people who will work on your file will be:

Amy Wallhead TEP – Legal Director. Amy is a very experienced private client solicitor who joined JG Poole & Co LLP in 2022. She advises on all aspects of non-contentious Private Client work including Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning and Probate and specialises in advising older and vulnerable clients. Amy is a full STEP member and full accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly. In addition she holds the STEP Advanced Certificate in Advising Vulnerable Clients.

Amy qualified as a solicitor in 2010.

Our team’s hourly rates are:

Amy Wallhead TEP Legal Director £300 per hour

These rates are subject to VAT and are reviewed periodically and reflect the level of experience and seniority of the members of the team.

As a general rule, if the estate is “simple” our costs will be in the region of £3,000 – £8,000 plus VAT.

A “simple” estate means:

  1. There is a valid Will;
  2. There is only one property;
  3. There are no foreign assets;
  4. There are no more than five bank or building society accounts or National Savings;
  5. No inheritance tax is payable;
  6. The executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC
  7. There are a limited number of legacies and gifts;
  8. There are no more than three to five beneficiaries in total;
  9. There are no disputes between beneficiaries or beneficiaries and executors;
  10. There are no claims against the estate.

Many estates are straight forward and in these cases often we are only instructed to obtain the Grant of Probate so that the beneficiaries can then administer the estate themselves. Our fees would reflect that fact.
Any estimate of fees does not include the following:

  • Sale or transfer of any property
  • Dealing with pre-death tax matters
  • Dealing with income tax or Capital Gains Tax during the administration period
  • Registration of any ongoing trusts with the Trust Registration Service
  • Dealing with overseas assets or beneficiaries

A “complex” estate would be one that would have business or agricultural assets, diverse investments, foreign assets and numerous beneficiaries or where there would be inheritance tax payable. However, the payment of inheritance tax does not necessarily make it a complex estate. It would also be a complex estate where there are disputes between the beneficiaries. These issues could all lead to the matter taking much longer to deal with which generally will increase the charges.

Where there is no Will, a professionally drawn up family tree may be required to ascertain who is entitled to benefit from the deceased’s estate.

Wills and intestacies can be varied and this too would make a relatively simple estate more complex.

With more complex estates once the issues become clearer we are able to give a better estimate of the time it will take to deal with and the costs involved.

Where we say VAT is applicable, it will apply at the rate then in force. Currently the rate is 20%.

Expenses

As well as the costs for administering an estate there are expenses which are called “disbursements”. These are set fees payable to third parties and include:

Probate application fee £273.00
Additional copies of the Grant £1.50 per copy
Bankruptcy Search £2.00 plus VAT for each beneficiary
Trustee Act Notices varies between £200 – £300 plus VAT
Land Registry Searches £3.00 plus VAT

 

Where we say VAT is applicable, it will apply at the rate then in force. Currently the rate is 20%.

What work is involved in the Administration of an Estate?

  1. We will meet with the executors either in person or by video call. At this meeting we will discuss the Will, who are the beneficiaries, what the deceased owned and what the next steps will be.
  2. Once we have established what the deceased owned we will obtain valuations for all the deceased’s assets and ascertain if they had any outstanding debts such as mortgages or credit cards.
  3. We will write to all the beneficiaries once we have the executors’ instructions to do so.
  4. When we have all the information we need about what is in the estate we can prepare the “probate papers” which include the return to HMRC (if necessary) and the probate application. These will be sent for approval in draft form to the executors / administrators.
  5. We will then arrange for the papers to be signed and for the signed copies to be submitted to HMRC (if appropriate), the probate application submitted and copy documents to be sent to the Probate Registry. We will also arrange for the initial payment of Inheritance Tax to be made (if necessary).
  6. On receipt of a Grant of Probate we will liquidate all the deceased’s assets such as closing bank accounts, selling or transferring shares and so on.
  7. When funds are available, we will settle all the deceased’s liabilities
  8. We will pay all legacies set out in the Will and if there are sufficient funds we will consider making interim distributions to the residuary beneficiaries.
  9. We will prepare Estate Accounts to account to the beneficiaries under the Will or those inheriting on intestacy for all the estate assets, debts and expenses and calculate their entitlements.

In more complex estates there will be other matters to deal with such as valuing farmland or businesses, dealing with foreign lawyers, corresponding with HMRC and dealing with stockbrokers and accountants.

How much is involved will obviously affect how long the administration will take.

A simple estate will take between 6 to 12 months and usually a Grant of Probate will be available in 6 months. However, a complex estate could take several years. If there is Agricultural Property Relief and Business Property Relief involved then HMRC can take many months to deliberate and will raise very detailed questions which have to be dealt with.

Billing

Generally we would raise an invoice based on our estimate, set out in a Letter of Engagement which we will have agreed with the executors at the outset of the instructions, once we have a Grant of Probate and we can access the deceased’s assets. After that we will bill regularly and when appropriate.

Please note that the firm does not currently provide the services (set out below) covered by the SRA Transparency Rules on costs information.

The services in relation to individuals are:

  • (a) The conveyance of residential real property or real estate which comprise:
    • (i) freehold or leasehold sales or purchases; or
    • (ii) mortgages or re-mortgages;
  • (b) The preparation and submission of immigration applications, excluding asylum applications;
  • (c) the provision of advice and representation at the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) in relation to appeals against Home Office visa or immigration decisions, excluding asylum appeals;
  • (d) the provision of advice and representation at the Magistrates Court in relation to summary only road traffic offences dealt with at a single hearing;
  • (e) the provision of advice and representation to employees in relation to the bringing of claims before the Employment Tribunal against an employer for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal.

The services in relation to businesses are:

  • (a) the provision of advice and representation to employers in relation to defending claims before the Employment Tribunal brought by an employee for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal;
  • (b) debt recovery up to the value of £100,000;
  • (c) the provision of advice and assistance and representation in relation to licensing applications for business premises.

Complaints Information

We want to give you the best possible service. However, if at any point you become unhappy or concerned about the service we have provided then you should inform us immediately, so that we can do our best to resolve the problem.

In the first instance it may be helpful to contact the person who is working on your case to discuss your concerns and we will do our best to resolve any issues at this stage. If you would like to make a formal complaint, then you can read our full complaints procedure here. Making a complaint will not affect how we handle your case.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help you if you are concerned about our behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.

You can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

What do to if we cannot resolve your complaint

The Legal Ombudsman can help you if we are unable to resolve your complaint ourselves. They will look at your complaint independently and it will not affect how we handle your case.

Before accepting a complaint for investigation, the Legal Ombudsman will check that you have tried to resolve your complaint with us first. If you have, then you must take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman:

  • Within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint and
  • No more than six years from the date of act/omission; or
  • No more than three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.

If you would like more information about the Legal Ombudsman, please contact them.

Contact details:

Visit: www.legalombudsman.org.uk
Call: 0300 555 0333 between 9am to 5pm.
Email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk
Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ

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