AF Hill Solicitor for the Elderly in London SE1 020 3612 4734
a different kind of solicitor
Andrew Hill AF Hill Law 020 3612 4734

Probate and administration

What is probate?
In the UK, when a person dies, their assets are frozen. These can only be accessed by the deceased's Personal Representative (PR) who administers their estate.

PRs can be appointed in a Will. Where this is the case, they are officially known as the Executors. If there is not a valid Will, the PRs are known as Administrators and there are rules determining who may take on this role.

In order to administer the estate and collect in the assets of the deceased, the PRs have to obtain a legal document to show that they have accepted the position and have legal authority to do this. These are different for Executors and Administrators:

1.   Executors apply for a Grant of Probate
2.   Administrators apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration

The PRs' duties fall into three categories:

1.   Collecting in the assets of the estate
2.   Paying the debts of the estate including the payment of all taxes
3.   Distributing the assets to the relevant beneficiaries

Is a solicitor needed?
Where an estate is complex, for example where there are overseas assets or Inheritance Tax (IHT) is payable (IHT is charged by HMRC on estates exceeding £325,000 and can be very complex, dependent on the value and structure of the assets of the estate) it is usually quicker and easier to use a specialist probate lawyer.

However, this is not always the case and where an estate contains relatively few assets, for example, small bank or post office accounts, it may be cheaper for a non-lawyer to complete the probate process. Sometimes solicitors are instructed to obtain the Grant of Probate and then to pass it over to the PRs to complete the estate administration.

That said, even in these circumstances, talking to a probate expert can provide benefits and this includes ensuring that all formalities are completed in the correct way and to time.

At AF Hill we offer technical expertise and experience together with a sympathetic approach to support you through the process of administrating the estate.

How much does our service cost?

This costs information applies only to straightforward estates and where all of the deceased's assets are in the UK.

Our charges for helping with a straightforward estate (including collating information to prepare Inheritance Tax return, applying to the Probate Registry for the Grant, collecting and distributing estate assets) are likely to be:

The above figures are for "straightforward" estates, e.g. estates where:

The exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter. For example, if there is one beneficiary and no property, the costs will be at the lower end of the range. If there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, costs will be at the higher end.

In addition to our fees, disbursements will also be paid out of the estate. Disbursements are costs related to the estate that are payable to third parties, such as probate fees. Where applicable, VAT is charged at 20%. We will handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.

The disbursements payable are:

Potential additional costs
If there is no Will or the estate consists of any share holdings (stocks and bonds) there is likely to be additional costs that could range significantly depending on the estate and how it is to be dealt with.
Dealing with the sale or transfer of any property in the estate is not included in the figures given. Any conveyancing costs will be charged separately.

There are often many variables that will have an impact on our fees. We can give you a clearer indication once we have more information about the estate. We will not proceed with the work until we have agreed the basis on which you wish to proceed. We may split the fees into the different stages of the matter to make it easier for you to understand.

How long will this take?

It is difficult to give an accurate estimate of the time it will take to complete the work, as there are too many variables, and each estate is different.

On average, straightforward estates are dealt with within 6-18 months, depending on how long it takes others (e.g the Inheritance Tax office) to deal with matters.

Typically, obtaining the grant of probate takes 3-6 months, if there is no inheritance tax payable but it may take longer where inheritance tax is payable before applying for probate. In these situations, we will be able to give you an indication of timescales when we have more information. Collecting assets then follows, which can take between 2-6 months. Once this has been done, we can distribute the assets, which normally takes 3 to 6 months.

About AF Hill

Andrew Hill is the owner of AF Hill Solicitors and will undertake all work on your matter. Andrew qualified as a solicitor in 2008 and specialises in the preparation of Wills and Powers of Attorney and advising and assisting clients with probate and Court of Protection work.

Andrew has extensive experience with the administration of estates. He has dealt with a number of complex estates that have included various cross border issues where a Grant of Probate has been needed in different countries.

Andrew is a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly (an independent national organisation of lawyers who provide specialist advice for older people). He is also a Dementia Friend.
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