Following new senior appointments at WSP Solicitors at the end of 2020, further internal promotions to salaried Director have been made. Amy Leivers, Kirstie Carr and Lucy McCallum, all Department...
What does our Estate Administration Service include?
When a loved one dies leaving a Will, the responsibility for the administration of their Estate rests with the Executor named in the Will.
The Executor must identify and collect in the deceased person’s assets, pay any liabilities and distribute the deceased’s estate in accordance with the Will. The Executor may need to apply for a Grant of Probate, which is a legal document which confirms that the Executor has the authority to deal with the deceased’s assets (for example, their house or bank accounts).
We can assist an Executor, at what will be a difficult and emotional time, by undertaking on his or her behalf the administration of the deceased’s estate. This is a full “Estate Administration Service”. We also offer a “Grant of Probate only Service”, where an Executor provides us with the information we need to apply for a Grant of Probate, which we deliver to the Executor once received.
What will we do to administer the estate?
Completing an Administration of Estate can be broken down into three main stages which are as follows:
1. Securing and valuing assets
- We will undertake a search of the Certainty National Wills Register in an effort to confirm, as far as is possible, that the most recent Will is being proved.
- We will ensure that any properties are secure and insured.
- We will arrange for probate valuations of any properties by a qualified specialist (for example by a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors qualified surveyor).
- We will take a full inventory of the deceased person’s belongings, including personal items, furniture and motor vehicles (and any items jointly owned) and instruct a probate valuation by a qualified valuer (for example an experienced auctioneer).
- We will examine documentation concerning the deceased’s financial assets, for example bank accounts, shareholdings and pensions.
- We will contact the third parties holding the deceased’s assets (for example a bank, share registrar or pension administrator) and ask each to provide a written valuation for each asset at the date of death.
2. Preparing legal and tax documentation
- We will prepare tax documentation, based upon the value and the composition of the deceased person’s estate.
- If tax documentation has to be submitted to HMRC, for example where Inheritance Tax is payable, we will do this and will assist in releasing funds to pay the Inheritance Tax assessed.
- We will prepare the Probate Application Form to be signed by the Executor
- We will submit an application to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate to be issued.
- Once a Grant of Probate has been received we will advise the Executor.
3. Once the Grant of Probate has been received
- We will produce the Grant of Probate to third parties holding the deceased’s assets (for example a bank or share registrar), together with the documents necessary for the release of funds (for example, a bank closure form).
- Property, for example a house, flat or land, can be sold or transferred (WSP also have an experienced conveyancing team).
- Any liabilities or debts that are due can be paid.
- We will contact the beneficiaries named in the will and request from them proof of their identity and address.
- To reduce exposure to cyber crime and fraud, we will ask beneficiaries to tell us their preferred means of payment (including their bank details) in writing by filling in our Cyber Crime & Payments Leaflet.
- Bankruptcy and electronic identification searches are carried out to ensure that the beneficiaries are not subject to a bankruptcy or are on HM Treasury’s Sanctions List.
- We will advertise a Trustee Act Notice, usually both in the London Gazette and the newspaper local to the deceased person, in order to give notice to (and protect the Executor against) creditors of the deceased’s estate.
- If the estate is subject to Inheritance Tax, we will obtain a clearance letter from HMRC confirming that the Inheritance Tax assessed has been paid.
- We then prepare Estate Accounts, which will provide to the Executor and the beneficiaries of the deceased’s Will with a clear summary of the assets, debts and other liabilities and the costs of administering his estate. The Estate Accounts will also detail legacies that are to be paid and will allow the shares due to the beneficiaries of the remainder of the estate (which is called the residue) to be ascertained.
Administering an Estate where there is no Will
Where a person dies without leaving a Will, their assets are distributed using the Rules of Intestacy. We will be able to advise you how the Rules of Intestacy may apply to you in your individual circumstances.
The procedure and costs will mirror the administration of an estate where the deceased person left a Will, although the administration may involve genealogical research in tracking down all of the beneficiaries entitled to share in the estate.
Who will act on your behalf?
Your matter will be undertaken by a member of our Wills, Trusts and Probate team. View the team’s profiles on our Meet the Team page. Whilst we welcome a request for a specific member of the Wills, Trusts and Probate team to act on your behalf, please note this may not always be possible, for example we may have another team member who has skills more suited to your matter.
How will your matter be supervised?
How long will the Estate Administration take?
There is no typical estate. However, we estimate that a Grant of Probate is usually obtained within 6 months of the deceased’s death, although the Probate Registry is currently experiencing difficulties in producing Grants of Probate following the implementation of a new computer system and has a significant backlog of applications. Collecting in the deceased’s assets and settling any liabilities can take between 3 and 6 months. We can distribute, then prepare estate accounts and distribute the deceased person’s assets within a further 2 months.
The timescales are based on our experience of a “standard” estate administration. However, there are factors that may delay the estate administration including:
- Difficulty locating or obtaining information from a beneficiary
- Delay in selling the estate assets, for example a house may not sell quickly
- Liaising with third parties, such as HM Revenue and Custom or the Probate Registry.
How much will we charge?
We offer clients a choice of two different pricing models (subject to appropriateness) which are set out below and called “Hourly Rate” and “Fixed Percentage”.
We can complete the administration of estate based on our time spent. The benefit of this approach is you only pay for the time required to undertake the administration of estate.
Our current charge rates range from £100 to £275 per hour. We estimate that a ‘straightforward estate’ will take between 5 and 20 hours to administer which will be charged at out hourly rates. It is important you note that:
- Different practitioners, with differing hourly rates, may work on a matter.
- We will charge the appropriate hourly rate when acting as executors.
- If the matter becomes abortive than we will be charge for the time spent.
- All of our charges are exclusive of VAT.
Alternatively, we can undertake the administration of estate based on a fixed percentage of the gross estate value. The benefits of this approach are:
- The costs are transparent and understandable
- The costs are limited by the estate value giving you certainty regardless of the work involved
The fixed percentage is generally set at 2% unless it is the death of a spouse who is survived by their partner, in which case it is 1%. An additional 0.2% is charged where we act as an executor, reflecting the responsibilities we conduct and risks we are exposed to on behalf of the estate. It is important you note that:
- The total cost of the Fixed Percentage may or may not be cheaper than an Hourly Rate.
- We only offer this on gross estate worth over £200,000.00.
- If the matter becomes abortive than our charge will be based on the Hourly Rate, see above.
- All of our charges are exclusive of VAT.
Given each estate is different, we recommend that we always meet with an Executor so that we can provide an estimate of costs. This is especially important when the estate may include more complex assets e.g. business or agricultural property.
Releasing a Will
We offer a fixed fee appointment lasting approximately one hour to release a will to the executors of an estate (following the death of the Testator/Testatrix) to discuss the Will/intestacy, duties of the executors and estate administration. The charge for this is set at £250 plus VAT and disbursements including the cost of an Equifax search (£10 plus VAT).
Should the appointment lead to further instructions being provided, such as; obtaining Grant of Probate in the estate or full estate administration, then the initial charge would be incorporated into the overall charges in place for this work. (Eg. If the executors proceed to instruct us to obtain a Grant of Probate with information they have provided, we would still only charge £1,500 plus VAT and disbursements and not £1,750 plus VAT and disbursements).
Are there any Additional Fees?
In addition to our charges above, clients may also be required to pay additional fees for the following services:
Our additional legal fees
|You will also be required to pay fees for the following:
Thirdfort ID fee (Where required)
ID administration fee (Equifax)
Bank Transfer administration fee (for a three day payment using BACS)
Bank Transfer administration fee (for a same day payment using CHAPS)
Home Visit within 10 miles of a branch
Home visit over 10 miles from a branch
50% of the hourly rate
50% of the hourly rate
Will you have to pay third party costs?
In the majority of Estate Administration matters we expect to pay the below third party expenses on your behalf. It is important you note we do not make any money from these payments and this is not an exhaustive list.
Additional costs from third parties
You will also be required to pay fees for the following:
Probate Registry fees £155.00 (plus £1.50 for each sealed copy obtained at the same time as the Grant of Probate) VAT free
Trustee Act Notices Approximately £255.00 VAT free
Bankruptcy search £2.00 per individual VAT free
Chartered Surveyor’s or Valuer’s fees Approximately £180.00 to £250.00 including VAT
Certainty National Wills Register Search Basic search £45.60 including VAT
What happens if your matter becomes abortive?
If you decide to cancel your instructions to us, we will charge an abortive fee. This fee will be based on the amount of work we have undertaken (expressed in the time recorded on your file) and charged at our Wills, Trusts and Probate team member’s hourly rate.
We will also charge you any payments to third parties we have incurred on your behalf.