Our Full Probate Service
- We are a niche solicitors’ practice, dealing almost exclusively with Wills, Trusts, Probate & Estate Administration, Court of Protection Deputyship Orders and Lasting Powers of Attorney, and Inheritance Tax planning and saving
- Over 60 years’ probate experience spread across our probate team
- Authorised and regulated by the SRA (Solicitors’ Regulation Authority)
- Membership of STEP (Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners) & the SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly)
- Full Solicitors’ Professional Indemnity Insurance
- Initial no-obligation meeting to explain in plain English the process of the Estate Administration for the particular circumstances of your matter, and our impartial advice on the pros and cons of the various ways of proceeding
- Where applicable, our experience and expertise on legal ways to reduce or eliminate Inheritance Tax which might otherwise have been payable, by using some or all exemptions, reliefs, transferable allowances and allowable deductions, and Deeds of Variation
- Our clients are not given a matter number, nor a ‘team’ who they should request when contacting us – you will know the name of, and speak to, the person who will be handling the administration on a day to day basis, and also (if applicable) the senior person who will be supervising any complexities in the matter
Our Probate Team
Claire Tkocz-Price is our Probate Manager. She graduated from university with an Upper Second Degree, and has been specialising in Probate & Estate Administration since 1999, joining us in 2005.
Gill Benyohai is our Probate Co-ordinator. Previously working for around a decade in childcare, Gill joined our probate team in 2006, and has dealt exclusively with probate matters throughout this time.
Michelle Phillips gained her Honours Degree in Law from the Open University, enabling her to spend time with her children while studying. She then studied, and completed, her exams through the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, and graduated from there – she is soon to be awarded fellowship. Michelle joined our Probate team in early 2015.
Samantha Anastasiou – Solicitor
Samantha gained a Second Class Honours degree at university in law. She spent several years in her early career working at a leading law practice in the City of London, and joined our Wills & Probate team in 2012. Samantha is always happy to give talks both on Wills and Inheritance Tax, Powers of Attorney, Court of Protection, Probate and Estate Administration to voluntary groups and older persons’ social groups. Never fazed by large estate administration matters, Samantha took on a probate matter a couple of years ago where the Will named 87 beneficiaries.
Hadley Long – Solicitor
Hadley gained an Upper Second Degree at university in Sociology some twenty years ago, and this background has proved to be invaluable when dealing with clients from a variety of backgrounds and a plethora of needs. As well as dealing with Wills and tax planning for high net-worth individuals, and handling complex probate matters, Hadley manages to find the time to run monthly legal advice surgeries at several local carers’ centres, giving talks and lectures at events such as Carers’ Rights Day and Planning for End of Life. Hadley loves a challenge, from unravelling offshore tax schemes to interpreting the validity for English tax planning of foreign trusts.
Michael Anvoner – Principal Solicitor. Michael is always on hand to assist the team with any particularly complex or unusual situations. Having gained a degree in Business Law many, many years ago, and having drawn up Wills for some of the best known names in the music business, he set up the firm specifically to be a niche practice, offering City and West End expertise at local fees. To this day, the firm still numbers many celebrities among its clients, from instantly recognisable names in television to ‘A’ list oscar nominated actors.
What Does the Full Probate Service Include
Your deceased’s estate administration will include the following, where relevant. Where any of the matters below have an asterisk (*) beside them, there may be a necessary official or external fee charged.
- Initial, no-obligation meeting with a specialist member of our probate team to go through the deceased’s paperwork, and explaining in plain English the procedure to the Executor or family. Describing the options regarding how to proceed – (1) dealing with the whole matter themselves, (2) obtaining all the valuations and balances from asset holders themselves and instructing us to apply for the grant, or (3) taking advantage of our full probate service in which we deal with the whole estate administration
- Going through the terms of the Will, and advising on its validity or explaining regarding potential problems – or, if there is no valid Will, explaining who benefits under the Intestacy Rules
- Arranging to have the funeral director’s bill paid.
- Writing to all asset holders, to establish value at death and requesting necessary information to finalise the deceased’s income tax affairs
- Writing to all potential creditors, and to the Dept. for Work & Pensions, to clarify liabilities of the estate and to establish any overpayments of benefits
- Writing to companies regarding private pensions, and establishing the situation and clarifying whether the pension or annuity continues
- Liaising with H.M. Revenue & Customs regarding the income tax position
- Advising clients regarding establishing correct valuation of any and all properties owned or co-owned by the deceased in a form acceptable to H.M. Revenue & Customs
- Liaising with share registrars to clarify number of shares held, and with stockbrokers to confirm their value* ( there may be a charge made by the brokers for valuation)
- Searching for any lost accounts
- Clarifying and, if necessary, renewing property insurance
- If relevant, searching in property for all relevant paperwork and arranging for clearance of the property
- Completing the Inheritance Tax (IHT) form for H.M. Revenue & Customs, and (if relevant) calculating any tax due
- Calculating any transferable IHT nil-rate band allowance
- Calculating any Residence nil-rate band IHT allowance
- Calculating any transferable Residence nil-rate band allowance
- Finalising deceased’s income tax affairs to satisfaction of HMRC – if necessary or sensible, passing to an accountant to deal with this*
- Drawing up Statement of Trust, or Oath, arranging for signing or swearing of this by Personal Representative, and making application to the Court for a grant of Probate or Letters of Administration (depending on whether there is a valid Will, and who is applying) for a grant in the estate
- Sending Court sealed copy of the grant to all asset holders and others who require sight of this, arranging for the closure of accounts and encashment of investments, and collecting in assets of the estate
- Where relevant, transferring all jointly held assets into the name(s) of joint owner(s)
- Discharging all liabilities of the estate
- Placing statutory advert for potential creditors in London Gazette and local paper*
- Transferring marital home into names of beneficiaries, or arranging for the sale of the property. *If sale is not straightforward, or if more than one contract has to be sent out due to potential buyers pulling out, additional legal fee will be charged for this
- Establishing identity and correct addresses of specific beneficiaries, and paying their legacies
- Setting up trust if relevant for minor beneficiaries
- Tracing missing beneficiaries* (Genealogist fees may be payable)
- Liaising throughout estate administration with proving Personal Representative and keeping them apprised of progress
- If relevant, dealing with Trust (often of the IHT nil-rate band allowance) in Will
- Drawing up draft Estate Accounts for approval by Personal Representative in plain English, showing the assets and liabilities of the estate, together with the income and expenditure and our fees
- Distributing to the residuary beneficiaries of the estate
Possible payments and disbursements
Official Court probate fee – £160 inclusive of 10 Court sealed copies of the grant
Oath swearing fee (if relevant) – £6-£8, plus £2 for each codicil
Land Registry office copies – £3 each
Bankruptcy search fee – £1-£2 each
Bank transfer fee – as charged by bank
Statutory adverts for creditors – £130-£200 (cost depending on local paper)
Official property transfer fee – £0-£250 depending on value and mode of application
As is clear from the above, what is needed depends very much on the size and composition of the deceased’s estate, and the type and number of beneficiaries. Every estate administration is different, and the above must be taken purely for guidance. After we have held a meeting with you and have established the composition and value of the estate, and the nature and number of beneficiaries, together with any complication or difficulties which might be encountered during the administration, we shall be able to give the clients a clearer and more accurate idea of the likely cost.
How we Charge for Probate Matters
We have found that the system which works best for clients is the traditional one of a combination of time spent on the matter and the value of the estate. However, we use common sense to adapt fee calculation where this is sensible. We give three examples of estate administration matters below, which show how this works in practice.
Why do we not quote a fixed fee? – The simple reason why we’d rather not work for a fixed fee is that it’s rarely a good deal for the client, and we honestly don’t like providing a service that isn’t good value. When running any sort of business, you wouldn’t be in business long if you run at a loss. So businesses charge a fee for their service which: a) is appropriate, and b) will adequately cover their costs. When dealing with the administration of an estate, it is never possible at the start to know what problems or complications might arise during the administration (e.g. missing documents, queries from H.M. Revenue & Customs, problems with beneficiaries, etc.). So, any firm which quotes a fixed fee will either keep their fingers crossed and hope everything proceeds smoothly (not a great business model) or, more likely, they’ll build a generous ‘cushion’ into their quote, “just in case”. Then, if everything does proceed without complications, you’ll have overpaid. While that is the most obvious problem with fixed fees, there are many, many others. For half a dozen examples, you might like to download our booklet – “Click Probate: 8 essential things you need to know before dealing with the estate of someone who has died”, which is not the usual dry list of what you need to do when someone has died, but is full of practical and useful tips, all written in plain English with no legal jargon.
Our hourly fees start at £185 (plus VAT) per hour for non-solicitor fee earners, and for solicitors start at £250 (plus VAT), rising to £325 (plus VAT) for complex work. The value element in a matter is calculated differently for the marital home and for everything else. For estates of up to £1 million, the value element is 0.5% of the gross value of the deceased’s interest in the marital home. So, if the deceased owned a flat worth £250,000 jointly with their spouse, the value element taken into account when calculating our fee for the matter would be £625 (half of £250,000, which is £125,000, x 0.5%). If the flat were rented rather than owned, then of course there would be a value element for it of zero. The value element for all other assets is 1%. For estates of between £1 million and £3 million, the value element charged is reduced by 50% for the value in excess of £1 million. For estates in excess of £3 million, the value in excess of £3 million is reduced by 75%.
These fees cover all our overheads – the cost of running the building, business rates, lighting, heating, computers and I.T., software, essential conferences, seminars, training courses, etc., salaries of fee earners, cleaning, security, secretarial, backroom and administration support, book keepers and accountants, stationery and office equipment, Law Society and Solicitors’ Regulation Authority annual fees, and last but definitely not least, our professional indemnity insurance which is well into 5 figures per year and which give protection to clients in the event of any errors.
Examples of How Fees are Calculated
These are examples only, and the names are fictitious
- Dora Inglis died at the age of 78 having left a Will leaving four charitable legacies, and the remainder to her 3 children in equal shares, with the proviso that if any did not survive her but left children of their own, these children would take in place of their deceased parent. Dora lived in a rented flat. She had bank accounts, National Savings, and premium bonds, together worth £145,000 in total. One of her sons had died some years earlier, leaving 2 children of his own. Therefore, the net estate would be divided 1/3 each to her two surviving children, and 1/6 each to her 2 grandchildren whose father had predeceased her. The value element of the estate came to £1,400, and it took a little under 8 hours to complete, so our firm’s fees in total to the estate were around £2,850 (plus VAT)
- Cyril Poster, 82, was divorced with no children but 2 nephews. To whom he had left everything. He left no Will. As well as bank and building society accounts, he had a few shareholdings, a managed shareholding investment, a private occupational pension, some old policies which had to be traced and their values confirmed, and a house in poor decorative order worth around £480,000 which the nephews asked us to sell. The value of his estate was around £760,000, and accordingly, there was significant Inheritance Tax to pay. Two hours was spent by a solicitor on the matter, and the remaining 17 hours by the probate manager. The firm’s fees, including the sale of the house, were around £8,850 (plus VAT).
- John Sampson died at 92, without having made a Will. He was a widower with an only daughter, who sadly had died some 10 years before him. She left a husband, but no children. This being so, John’s estate would pass to his nearest living relative. As he left no surviving children or grandchildren, obviously no surviving parent, and had no brothers or sisters, the Intestacy Rules dictate that his next of kin would be his grandparents or their issue. So, investigation of his mother’s parents’ descendants and those of his father’s parents was needed to establish who these were. As it was clear his grandparents and aunts and uncles were no longer alive, the estate passed to his first cousins on both sides of the family – two of these had predeceased, but had left children (John’s first cousins once removed), and these took in their parents’ place. John left an offshore account in the Channel Islands, necessitating our obtaining a Jersey grant, a large portfolio of shares which was not under management but kept by him, another portfolio of shares which were bought because these companies benefited from 100% Business Property Relief from IHT which had to be applied for to H.M. Revenue & Customs, many policies and investment plans, his home, several accounts with banks, building societies, and investment companies, some shares in a private unquoted company, and other assorted assets. The value of the estate was in the region of £6 million. His house was worth around £2 million. The firm’s fees, inclusive of the sale of the property, would be in the region of £38,500 (plus VAT).
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 might do our best to resolve the problem.
In the first instance it may be helpful to contact the person who is working on your matter to discuss your concerns, and we shall do our best to resolve any issues at this stage. If you would like to make a formal complaint, then if you do not have one or cannot find it please ask us for our full complaints procedure, Making a complaint will not adversely affect how we handle your matter.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help you if you are concerned about our attitude. This could be if you thought there had been a possibility of our treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic. You can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
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 adversely affect how we handle your matter.
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.
Call: 0300 555 0333 between 9am to 5pm.
Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ