Wills Probate and Tax Planning

WILLS, PROBATE AND TAX PLANNING

Although it is not something one likes to consider it is an unfortunate fact that death is inevitable. One should therefore consider “putting their affairs in order” and making a Will appointing persons as Executors who you can trust to make sure your wishes are carried out in the event of your death. If you do not make a Will then on your death Rules of Intestacy apply which is basically a format laid down by law for the distribution of your estate. This can often mean that your estate does not pass to whom you wish. A Will is therefore advisable to avoid this situation. Today’s families are also more fluid with more marriages, half brothers and sisters and step-children. In these situations it is even more essential to receive professional advice so as to avoid pitfalls whereby your estate may eventually pass to persons you do not wish it to.

In making a Will you should also receive advice on Tax planning so as to take possible steps to reduce any Inheritance Tax which may be payable.

These days there are any suppliers of Wills other than Solicitors such as Will Writers, Banks and Insurance Companies as well as in the near future probably Supermarkets. Why choose our offices?

With our offices you get professional expertise gained from many years of preparing Wills for satisfied Clients. What you as a Client should expect and will get with our services is:

Expert knowledge including related matters such as property rights and tax issues essential in preparing a Will.
Freedom of choice and advice in appointing Executors.
Professional service at a reasonable cost.
Less emphasis on cross selling of other products.
Home visits can be arranged when it is not possible to attend our offices.
Storage facilities for Wills.
If the need arises Indemnity cover and recognised channels for complaint.

When we lose someone who is dear it is always a sad and unsettling time. As well as coping with the emotions that your loss brings it is often an extremely stressful time in having to deal with the estate.

General information in respect of dealing with Probate applications is contained in our Costs section which will give you general insight in respect of services provided and the likely cost of the same. More precise and personalised information will be given on personal enquiry.

Our Costs in respect of Administration of Estates Fixed Costs

Our Costs in respect of applying for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration (where there is no Will) and distributing the assets in an uncontested estate are provided on a fixed fee basis when the following conditions apply:-

  1. There is no more than one property.
  2. There are no more than 10 Bank Accounts or Building Society Accounts.
  3. There are no more intangible assets.
  4. There are no more than 6 Beneficiaries.
  5. There are no continuing Trusts
  6. There are no disputes between Beneficiaries. If disputes arise there will be an increase in Costs.
  7. There is no Inheritance Tax payable.
  8. There are no claims made against the estate.
In such cases our fixed Costs will be: £1,500.00 plus VAT (20%) – our Total fees £1,800.00 In addition there will be the following Disbursements which are payments we make on your behalf to third parties:
  1. Probate Court fee - £155.00
  2. Swear Oath fee - £5.00 per Executor and £2.00 per exhibit
  3. Bankruptcy searches - £2.00 per person
  4. Copies of sealed Grants of Probate - £0.50p copy
  5. If required advertisement in London Gazette and local paper – circa £80.00 - £200.00

Our fixed Costs include all work necessary in obtaining details of assets and liabilities, preparation of IHT205 Account, preparation of Oath and application to the Probate Registry for Grant of Representation and distribution of assets in accordance with the Will or Rules of Intestacy where there is no Will.

Potential additional Costs

If there are shareholdings (stocks and bonds) then there is likely to be additional Costs including Valuation fees of those investments. Dealing with the sale or transfer of the property in an estate is not included in the above fixed fees.

How long will it take?

On average estates that fall within the above category are dealt within 3 to 6 months. Typically the time to obtain the Grant will take 12 weeks. Collecting in assets between 4 and 6 weeks and distribution of assets between 2 and 4 weeks.

Time Costs and percentage of value of Estate

or estates that do not fall within the above category for fixed Costs and mainly when Inheritance tax is payable and a completion of an Inland Revenue Account (IHT400) is required then our charges will be calculated according to:-

Time spent by solicitors and legal staff in dealing with the estate, and A “value element”. This is a percentage of the gross value of the estate, as the monetary value involved is one measure of the extent of responsibility falling on the firm

We give below an explanation of the “time” and “value” factors. Time

For meetings, discussions and other work progressing the administration of the estate, the hourly charging rates (excluding VAT) of our Solicitors and Legal Executors is £200.00 per hour. VAT will be added at the current rate.

Telephone calls and letters are treated as follows: Telephone calls (made and received by us) are recorded in units each of six minutes. Short and routine letters (written and received) are counted as six minutes each. Value The “value element” is calculated as follows:
  • [ 1% ] per cent on the gross value of the estate (excluding the value of the deceased’s home if this was owned); and
  • [ 0.5% ] per cent on the value of the deceased’s home.
Additional expenses

Other expenditure will be necessary in dealing with the estate by way of disbursements. These will be payments which we make to third parties on your behalf. In this type of transaction, they usually consist of the Probate Registry fee, Commissioners fees for the swearing of Oaths, additional Court copy fees for copies of the Grant issued and if necessary, Valuer’s fees. Likely Disbursements are:-

  • Probate Court fee - £155.00
  • Swear Oath fee - £5.00 per Executor and £2.00 per exhibit
  • Bankruptcy searches - £2.00 per person
  • Copies of sealed Grants of Probate - £0.50p copy
  • If required advertisement in London Gazette and local paper – circa £80.00 - £200.00
Amount of Work

It is difficult at the beginning of the administration of most estates to say how much work will be involved but we estimate for average estates where Tax and Inland Revenue IHT400 is required to be completed of between 25 – 45 hours work. When the full level of the estate is known we always confirm to you in writing a full estimate of the likely Costs and Disbursements.

Example

On an estate of £1,200,000.00 consisting of residential property of £500,000.00 and other investments of £700,000.00 and where IHT is payable and say 30 hours work is involved the likely Legal Costs would be as follows:-

Consideration factor –
  • 1% of £700,000.00 = £7,000.00
  • ½% of £500,000.00 = £2,500.00
  • Time Costs – 30 hours = £6,000.00
  • Total Legal Costs £15,500.00
  • plus VAT £ 3,100.00
  • plus Disbursements as applicable above.

Where possible and once we have ascertained the level of the estate and the amount of work involved, we will try and agree with you fixed Costs.

Bills

We usually submit bills at intervals during the administration of the estate. This will keep you informed about charges. If you approve them, both the interim and final bills can be paid from the estate funds automatically and you do not need to make payment personally.

The first interim bill is submitted after the Grant has been obtained. If it is likely to be some time before we can finalise the tax position and complete the administration, we normally submit a second interim bill in the course of the administration. Our final bill will be presented when the administration is completed.

How long will it take?

On average estates that fall within the above category where Inheritance Tax is payable are usually dealt with between 6 and 12 months. Particularly the time to obtain the Grant will take between 4 and 6 months and the collecting in of the assets in the estate up to 2 months with distribution of the assets thereafter between 2 and 3 months.

Additional Costs

It is usually necessary when Inheritance Tax is payable to obtain professional valuations of some of the assets and accordingly Professional Valuation fees by third parties such as Stock Brokers or Property Valuers may be required in addition. The sale or transfer of any freehold or leasehold properties will be charged separately in accordance with our Conveyancing charges (see Residential Conveyancing section).

Our Service The service which we will provide as part of our fees will include:-
  • Providing you with a dedicated and experienced Probate Solicitor to work on your matter.
  • Identifying the legally appointed Executors or Administrators and Beneficiaries.
  • Accurately identifying the type of Probate application you require.
  • Obtaining relevant documents required to make the application.
  • Completing the Probate application form and relevant HMRC forms in respect of IHT.
  • Drafting Legal Oath for you to swear.
  • Making application to the Probate Court on your behalf.
  • Obtaining the Probate.
  • Collecting in and distributing all assets in the estate.
  • Preparation of Estate Account for approval of the Executors.
Who will deal with your transaction?

Our Probate Administration Team consists of Jonathan Richards, John Easter and Rita Smith who you will see from the Legal Team details above have many years of experience in dealing with Probate and administration of estates having dealt with hundreds of estates over the years collectively ranging from small to complex cases. Whoever acts for you will provide a first class professional service backed by an experienced support team and supervised by the Head of Private Client Department.

Contact the Will, Probate and Tax Planning team:-

Email Lynsey Smith

Email Rita Smith

Email Tracey Taft

Email Joanne Turner

Email Joanne Turner

Email Tracey Messenger

 

    Lexcel Accreditation Law Society Accreditation Solicitors and Legal Executives of Rowland Tildesley & Harris qualified only to advise on English Law and in the jurisdiction of England and Wales.

Rowland Tildesley & Harris is a partnership Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 56607.   Solicitors Code of Conduct


   If for any reason you need to complain about us or our services find details here Our complaint Procedure