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Probate Solicitors Hemel Hempstead

 

Grant of Probate & Estate Administration

Dealing with the financial and legal documentation following the death of a loved one can be a daunting task.  Probate Solicitors can help families and executors manage the legal steps that arise when somebody dies. Hepburn Delaney’s expert probate solicitors can help you with the whole of the administration of the estate, from beginning to end, or alternatively we can just assist in obtaining the Grant of Representation. There are a number of potential complexities when dealing with a person’s estate. Hepburn Delaney recommends using a probate solicitor to ensure that you comply with the legal requirements of administering an estate. Our specialist team will guide you through the process keeping you fully informed throughout. Whatever the size or complexity of the estate our experienced team can advise you.

Understanding Probate

Estate Administration 

When someone dies their personal representative must put together a picture of their financial circumstances on the date they passed away.  This involves identifying and formally valuing all of their assets and liabilities.  Once the value of the estate is established a Grant of Representation can be applied for from the Probate Registry.  This allows the executors to collect in all the assets, settle the debts, pay any tax due on the estate, and distribute the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries.  . The administration of an estate can be a time consuming and complicated process. Our probate solicitors can deal with all formal aspects of estate administration, easing the burden on you at a stressful and difficult time.

Grant of Representation

If there is a Will, the executors named will often need to apply for a Grant of Probate.  This is a legal document which confirms that the Will is valid and gives the executor the authority to deal with the deceased person’s estate.  If there is no Will then the closest family members have to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration.  This is similar to probate and the Grant gives the appropriate family member the right to administer the estate.

As part of both processed it is necessary to complete an inheritance tax form and a separate declaration giving details of the estate. If any Inheritance Tax is payable, it must be paid to HMRC before you can receive the Grant of Representation.  This often creates a catch 22 situation as the personal representatives cannot always access the deceased’s accounts until after a Grant is issued.    Our Probate solicitors are experienced in dealing with these situations and can advise you on appropriate ways to deal with any tax liability and ensure that you have fulfilled your obligations as a personal representative.. Once the grant has been issued by the Court you will have the authority to deal with the estate. This means that you can ask banks to release money, sell property, collect any money that is owed, settle any debts due (including outstanding taxes) and divide the estate amongst the respective beneficiaries.

 

Our Fees

At Hepburn Delaney, we charge for the time taken to administer an estate, and we do not based our fees onthe value of the estate.  Managing the estate of a loved one is a very personal process and every estate is individual.  To help you understand the costs involved, we have provided a guide to our Probate pricing for a simple estate below. We tailor each case to you and we can undertake as much or as little of the work as you would like us to.  The prices shown are therefore only intended to provide an estimated guideline and you should contact us directly to discuss your specific requirements if you would like assistance with an estate matter.  We always recommend arranging a meeting with either Sumaiya or Alison our Wills, Trust and Probate Solicitors, to discuss the estate.  They can provide you with a detailed estimate of costs and a meeting also provides an opportunity to learn more about us.

 

 

 Probate Fees and Services

There are two services we offer for Probate:

orangeleaf1 To apply for a  Grant.  This involves:

  • Advising you on the information which will be required to prepare the application
  • Using the information which you have collated and passed over to us to complete the necessary HRMC inheritance tax forms and other Grant application papers
  • Submitting the papers to HMRC and the Probate Registry and obtaining the Grant of Representation
  • Passing the copies of the Grant over to you so that you can complete the rest of the administration yourself.

orangeleaf1 Full administration of the Estate, which would include collating all the necessary information,  obtaining the Grant of Representation, gathering in the assets of the estate, discharging any debts, dealing with any tax matters, and distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.  This involves:

  • Registering the death with all the asset holders and collating the necessary valuations;
  • Dealing with the HMRC and Probate Registry forms and making the application for the Grant;
  • Once the Grant is obtained, arranging for the encashment of the assets, including the release of funds from bank accounts, the sale of share and investments, the sale of any property etc. The funds would be collected into our client account, saving you the need to open a designated executors account with your bank;
  • Once all the assets have been collected, any debts and liabilities of the estate will be paid.
  • All the deceased’s tax matters will be finalised and any necessary tax returns filed. This will include finalising their inheritance tax income tax, and capital gains tax, if necessary;
  • We will also prepare a detailed set of Estate Accounts showing all the money which has been collected in and paid out on behalf of the estate and this will show each beneficiary how the share due to them has been calculated.
  • Once all the above matters have been dealt with, the final distribution of the estate can be made.

If we assume all the paperwork is provided to Hepburn Delaney and;

  • There is a valid will
  • There is no more than one property
  • There are no more than 2 bank or building society accounts
  • There are no other intangible assets
  • There are 1 to 2 beneficiaries
  • There are no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets. If disputes arise this is likely to lead to an increase in costs
  • There is no inheritance tax payable and the executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC
  • There are no claims made against the estate

For the Grant only service, we anticipate this will take between 5 and 6 hours at £270 per hour. Total fee estimated at between £1,080 and £1,6200 + VAT.  This is an estimate and not a fixed fee.

For a full administration service, we anticipate this will take between 10 and 12 hourat £270 per hour.  Total fee estimated between £2,700 – £3,240 + VAT to conclude the full administration of the estate.  This is an estimate and not a fixed fee.

The above scenario is the most straight forward example of Probate we can give.

However many probates are more involved. For example, the deceased may have held shares, premium bonds, investment funds, private pensions etc.   There are often a number of beneficiaries, or charitable gifts, and quite often a trust in the Will which adds a further layer of complication.  If the deceased made gifts during their lifetime then this will also give rise to another avenue of investigation, as all gifts must be disclosed on the application papers.

Therefore, where there are any additional complicating factors then the costs will be more than those estimated above.For estates where Hepburn Delaney find the deceased affairs are not known to others and we have to investigate all the assets and liabilities ourselves then the costs will also be higher.  As an example, Hepburn Delaney has recently completed a Probate where our tasks not only included establishing the extent of the estate, but also registering the deceased’s death, arranging the funeral/memorial service, house clearance, auction of valuables and arranging the sale of the property.  The cost to obtain grant of probate was £14,000 Plus VAT and disbursements with the full administration costs concluding at £20,000 plus VAT and disbursements.

We can be flexible in our approach and can agree with you which elements of the estate administration we will carry out on your behalf, and which elements of the work you wish to do yourself in order to keep costs to a minimum.  Please therefore always contact us directly to obtain a specific estimate of our costs for dealing with your particular matter.

Probate Disbursements

In addition to our fees, the following disbursements are likely to be payable.  Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. We manage the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.

  • Probate application fee of £155 (plus £1.50 per extra copy)
  • Land Registry fees to check the title to any estate property – £3
  • Land Charges searches to check the bankruptcy status of beneficiaries prior to making distributions- £2 per beneficiary
  • Statutory notices in The London Gazette and a local newspaper which protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors – circa £250 (varies on the particular newspaper used)
  • Postage fees – we send all original documents by special delivery so they can be tracked and do not go missing in the post. This will incur a charge of approximately £7.50 for each letter required to be sent by special delivery.

Probate Timescales

If we are instructed just to assist you in obtaining the Grant, the timescales will depend very much on how quickly you are able to provide us with the required information.  We will normally aim to provide you with drafts of the application papers within 2 weeks of receiving all the information.  Once the papers are approved and signed, assuming that a full inheritance tax return does not need to be submitted to HMRC, we anticipate a timescale of 8 to 10 weeks for the Probate Registry to process the papers and issue the Grant.  If a full IHT400 tax return must also be submitted to HMRC and inheritance tax is payable, it is likely to be 10 to 15 weeks from the signing of the papers to the receipt of the Grant. These timescales are approximate and will depend on how quickly the papers are processed by HMRC and the Probate Registry, which is unfortunately out of our hands.

Where we are acting on the full administration of the estate, we would expect even the most straightforward estate to take around 12 months to conclude.  There are a number of factors which impact the time taken to administer an estate, such as how quickly we receive replies from the financial institutions once we contact them, how quickly HMRC and the Probate Registry process the paperwork, how long it takes to sell the property if there is a house in the estate, and whether there are any disputes between the beneficiaries.  These elements are outside of our control and can have a significant impact on the length of time it takes to a administer an estate through to conclusion.  It can therefore, in some circumstances, take several years to conclude the administration.  We will however provide you with an estimate of the likely timescales based on your specific situation once we have your instructions.

Hepburn’s Probate Solicitors

Hepburn Delaney’s probate and estate administration services are undertaken by Sumaiya Smyth and Alison Rowley

                  

Alison Rowley                                                 Sumaiya Smyth

Partner | Wills & Probate Team                Managing Associate Solicitor and Head of Private Client

Working with a family business

Hepburn Delaney was established in 2013 by Jane Hepburn and Rebecca Delaney who had worked together for several years before deciding to set up a specialist family law practice. Our intention has always been to provide a niche, bespoke service to clients seeking advice on a broad range of family matters and we remain committed to this approach.

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