The word “probate” basically means to prove and is a legal document required when someone has died to prove the person dealing with their estate is the correct person. Access Law, Southampton Solicitors, can assist you in the process. Wendy Hewstone will be conducting your case for you.
An official Grant of Probate is needed to be able to sell a house or if there is a large sum of money in a Bank account or insurance policies to recover.
A Grant of Probate is obtained when there is a Will, but if there is no Will the laws of Intestacy apply and the beneficiaries then apply for Letters of Administration, which has the same effect as Probate.
However if the estate is small, sometimes less than £50,000.00, some organisations such as insurance companies and building societies, may release the money to the beneficiaries at their discretion, without the need for Probate or Letters of Administration.
This is called the Small Estates exempt procedure and usually the organisation just requires a form completed, which sometimes has to be signed in the presence of a Solicitor. The Solicitor will need to see the Death certificate of the deceased and evidence of identification of the person signing, such as passport and utility bills.
We deal with matters of Probate such as:
A normal Probate application will cost £750 plus VAT of £150.00 plus the Court fee of a minimum £155, more if copies are needed, and an oath fee of £7 per Executor or Administrator. This is for an estate where there is a Will, no inheritance tax is payable, there are no disputes between beneficiaries and all the assets are in the UK.
To check whether the estate is one where Inheritance Tax (IHT) is likely to be due there is an online calculator provided by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) at: HMRC tax calculators
We normally also need to incur other fees such as checking the beneficiaries are not bankrupt which is £2 per name and advertising in the local paper and the London Gazette, the price varies depending on the number of adverts but usually around £160.00 to £220.00 including VAT. This is to ensure there are no unknown creditors and protect the Executors from any claims.
There may be a need to involve accountants if there are complicated tax issues or stockbrokers need to be instructed to sell shares and their charges will be discussed when they are instructed.
If Access Law are appointed to act in a conveyancing transaction as well for the estate there can be a reduction on the Probate fees.
If the matter is more complex or involves Court proceedings then this is chargeable at the normal hourly rates, see our private funding page: Access Law Private Funded Cases. We do not offer no win no fee cases so might refer a contested case to another firm.
The likely cost for a more complex case, which could involve; preparation of an application for Letters of Administration where there is no Will, lengthy completion of an Inheritance tax form and dealing with the payment of the tax due, liaising with HMRC over the tax liability or the Department for Work and Pensions over a reclaim for benefits, or selling a large portfolio of stocks and shares, depends on the time spent but could be in the region of £1,500 to £2,500 plus vat at the current rate of 20%. and the expenses as outlined above.
If the case is one that can be dealt with under a fixed fee we will:
On average, estates that fall within this range are dealt with within 6-12 months. Typically, obtaining the information to prepare and apply for the grant of probate takes 4-8 weeks but this depends on how long the various institutions take to respond to requests for information including the valuations at the date of death. Collecting assets then follows, which can take between 4-8 weeks. Once this has been done, we can distribute the assets, which normally takes 4-6 weeks as the final accounts need to be approved. However, you need to be aware that potential claimants who want to contest a Will or Intestacy have six months to issue proceedings from the date of the Grant and a further four months to serve the papers so sometimes it is prudent to wait before the final distribution of the assets.
The assets may include a property or properties that need to be sold so if that is the case then the property can only be sold once a buyer is found and the Grant is obtained. We set out the details of a typical conveyancing transaction here: Procedure for a sale
The timescales for finalising the estate will therefore be dependent on the sale process as well.
If the case is a more complex one we endeavour to deal with the case in similar timescales as the fixed fee but it usually takes longer to prepare the IHT forms and calculate the tax due, this may need to be borrowed as it needs to be paid before assets are sold and then once the tax calculation is sent to HMRC they often take at least 6-10 weeks to acknowledge and send their response which is required before a Probate application can be made. It will often take longer to sell the assets, especially if there is a foreign element and if the DWP make a claim it can take a few months for them to respond and be satisfied either there is no benefit repayable or advise of the amount they are seeking back. Access Law will keep you informed as to the progress of the case.