When you lose a loved one, you may be told that you need to employ a specialist in probate or a solicitor. This well-meant advice may at first appear to be a good idea but expenses involved can be high if you’re not careful about choosing the right help with probate.
In this article, we’ll take a look at fees charged by specialists and solicitors for probate. We’ll also discuss the reasons why you may want to consider employing a specialist in probate as well as the best way to find one.
The first thing to do is to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I need someone who specializes in probate?
In most cases, you will need an expert (see more below). In some instances, however, a relative or friend may act as executor and handle probate for you. Many people find that this approach may be quite uncomplicated and save them thousands of pounds.
It would be advisable for you to educate yourself by researching probate. This could help you to sort out the estate quickly and easily, in particular, if the deceased has left a will.
- Do I need a solicitor whose speciality is probate, when should I consult one?
A specialist in probate may be a solicitor, accountant or specialist in probate. In any case, you may be sure you will be charged a fee for services rendered.
Fees aside, you may want to consider the services of a probate specialist in certain cases.
- If the value exceeds the Inheritance Tax threshold, and the estate is such that it earns a regular income, then complicated taxes may become due. For example, for the 2016-17 year, the threshold was £325,000.
- When questions arise about the will, this also may give rise to complications.
- When there’s any question with regard to the will’s validity.
- When the deceased deliberately omitted to name dependents who might make a claim against the estate.
- In the event that there must be complex arrangements such as assets held in trusts, etc.
- When an estate proves to be insolvent, i.e. bankrupt.
- When an estate may be declared insolvent but there is cause for doubt.
- When a part of the estate includes foreign property.
- When the decedent may have taken up residence outside the UK for tax purposes.
- How much will the services of a probate professorial cost?
Some and solicitors and specialists charge an hourly fee, others may base their fee on the value of an estate.
In this case, a normal fee would be calculated as a percentage of the value of the estate. This would be between 1% to 5% not including VAT.
The fees charged by some specialists will be both hourly as well as a percentage of the estate. This, however, does not mean that it will cost you more. In this case, they base their fee on an estimation of the amount of work to be done.
Many banks offer administration services. These services, if administered by a bank, are usually more expensive than using the services of a solicitor or specialist.
More information on this subject may be found at:
- How do I go about finding a solicitor or specialist in probate?
When shopping for a specialist, you should use the same methods you might use when shopping for any other service. You should get quotes from several companies and choose to better negotiate a fee with a specialist you prefer.
Should you decide to employ a specialist in probate, it may be easier to choose the solicitor who drew up the decedent’s will, or who has it stored.
You are not necessarily obliged to use this particular solicitor, however. You have every right to find another solicitor or specialist to work on your behalf.
There are directories of probate specialists. Here are links you may find helpful in choosing:
- What should I be watching out for?
First, you should have an estimate albeit rough v. the final bill.
Many who specialize in probate attempt to offer fees estimated in a way that is binding. You may be given what they call a ballpark figure.
In such case, you may expect revisions to this figure and they will not be lower. At the end of the day, therefore, you had better prepare yourself for a final bill that could be considerably higher than you expected to pay.
Many firms these days have a detailed fact-finding questionnaire, that you must fill out before they offer you any estimates.
In this way, a solicitor may have a clearer idea of the work involved and thereby quote a fee more in keeping with the actual work to be done. Usually, in this way, the fee should remain close to the estimate originally quoted.
You should expect other fees that must be considered as well:
- Disbursement costs. This is part of getting probate. This might include applications fees and getting certified copies of necessary documents.
- On occasion, it may necessary to sell some or part of the property.
- It is also normal to expect valuation and conveyance fees which would be in addition to the specialist’s fee.
- The 20% VAT fee will possibly not be included in your initial quote. This, of course, would amount to a considerable increase in your fee.
Using a bank as co-executor
Before you agree to hire any firm, you should request that fees are clearly explained and you should have an equally clear understanding of a time schedule for payment of these fees and in what stages.
It’s possible that the decedent will have chosen to have used a bank to draw up a will and would have appointed the bank as co-executor. A bank might expect to act as executor.
Banks have sometimes made an attempt to insist that they do this. When allowed to be the executor of an estate, In this instance, you would be charged according to the value of the estate. This percentage could be rather high. You could be paying tens of thousands of pounds in service fees.
- If all beneficiaries agree, you have a right to ask your bank to step down as executor. In a case where a bank refuses to renounce its role as co-executor, it may be necessary to take legal action to have it removed.