Details of the services we provide on an estate administration matter
When we provide you with a fee proposal for estate administration, we will provide a clear breakdown of the aspects upon which we are advising and those which are excluded from our scope. Each matter is different and so it is not possible to state the particular aspects relevant to your matter without further information. Once we have a better understanding of your matter, we can confirm the aspects upon which we will be providing input.
The overview of our fees below is based on a “typical” estate administration matter and we assume that our services will include the following key stages:
- Taking your instructions and providing initial advice on the estate administration procedure and the contents of the Will
- Investigating the assets and liabilities of the estate and obtaining valuations as required
- Preparing and submitting an inheritance tax return if required
- Arranging payment of any inheritance tax due
- Preparing probate papers and applying for the Grant of Probate
- Realising the estate assets once the Grant has been issued
- Finalising the deceased’s lifetime tax affairs
- Paying debts
- Paying legacies
- Making distributions to the beneficiaries
- Preparing an estate account
- Reporting on the estate’s tax affairs
- Obtaining the requisite tax clearances
There is no “standard” time frame for estate administration; every estate has its own characteristics which will impact upon timings. However, in a straightforward estate we would anticipate that the Grant of Probate may be obtained within four to seven months of us commencing work on the matter, whilst the entire process from start to finish may take between eight and 14 months. These timeframes are based on the Probate Registry processing the application for a Grant in a timely fashion – there may, however, be times where external delays beyond our control impact on how quickly we can deal with an estate.
Please note that the fees mentioned below do not include any conveyancing fees for carrying out any sale or transfers of real property within the estate.
The fee indications below do not include any additional expenses (such as Probate Registry fees). Please see below for a description of the likely additional expenses which may be payable on an estate administration matter.
Overview of fees
No one estate administration is exactly the same as another – the process will depend upon a number of factors including the assets within the estate and how those assets are divided between the beneficiaries. Our fees reflect the particular requirements of the estate in question and so we cannot provide a “typical” fee for estate administration matters. For example, dealing with multiple shareholdings or multiple beneficiaries adds to the complexity and will cost more than dealing with a simple estate passing to a sole beneficiary. Therefore, we cannot provide a reliable estimate of the cost of us helping you until we have details of the estate. That said, our fees for estate administration (where we are assisting with the process as a whole rather than dealing with one aspect in isolation) usually start from £7,750 plus VAT and our fees for dealing with a simple estate usually tend to be in the region of £7,750 - £10,000 plus VAT. By “simple estate” we mean a non-taxable estate with a small number of straightforward assets, such as bank or building society accounts, passing to a single beneficiary.
While we do deal with simple estates, the estates with which we typically deal on a day-to-day basis tend to be more involved. Commonly, these estates will be taxable, contain a variety of different types of assets, and pass to a number of beneficiaries. There may be Will trusts requiring attention. Our fees for dealing with estates of this nature tend to be in the region of £15,500 - £30,000.
We also deal with highly complex estates, where fees can be considerably greater.
Whatever the nature of the estate, there are certain complicating factors that are likely to increase costs. These include (but are not limited to) the following:
- No valid Will, or a Will which does not effectively dispose of all of the estate’s assets
- Inability of the appointed executors to act
- The appointment of professional executors
- Lifetime gifts or trusts made by the deceased
- Claims for inheritance tax reliefs and exemptions
- Complex assets (for example share portfolios)
- Non-UK assets
- Assets written in trust
- Multiple legacies
- Beneficiaries wishing to vary their entitlements under the estate
- Assets being transferred to beneficiaries rather than realised as cash
- Claims on the estate or disputes between beneficiaries
- Unusual or complicated lifetime tax affairs
At the start of any estate administration matter, we will consider the individual nature of the estate and the work required in relation to it. We will always give an individual fee proposal which takes into account the actual features of your matter and reflects any complexities we are aware of at the outset.
To the extent that unexpected complications arise during the progress of the matter (for example, protracted discussions with HMRC to obtain tax clearances), we will always inform you of this and will discuss the potential consequences of such complications before any extra charges are incurred.
Our fee proposals are based upon the estimated hours it is likely to take to complete the estate administration. Our hourly rates vary according to the nature of a particular engagement and the seniority of the lawyers. In considering pricing we take into account many factors such as your objectives and the complexity, novelty, urgency, value and risk of a project. Our hourly rates are as follows (these are reviewed in May each year):
Rates (exclusive of VAT)
Rates (inclusive of VAT at 20%)
£465 to £685
£558 to £822
£390 to £550
£468 to £660
£310 to £515
£372 to £618
£235 to £395
£282 to £474
Paralegals and Trainees:
£165 to £250
£198 to £300
Where appropriate, we may offer a fixed fee option (either for elements of the administration or for the whole task). Where fixed fees are offered, the scope of the work to be carried out will be clearly set out and will be easy to compare against the time spent option for the same work.
When providing fee proposals, our fees are stated to be exclusive of VAT and so VAT (where applicable, currently at 20%) will be due in addition. For example, this means that our fees for estate administration start at £7,750 plus VAT (being £9,300 in total). For clarity the table above shows our rates without VAT and with VAT.
During the course of the matter, in addition to our fees, certain other expenses (known as “disbursements”) are likely to be payable. We tend to handle the payment of disbursements on your behalf to make things simpler for you. For example, the Probate Registry charges an application fee of £273 (which is not subject to VAT) to issue the Grant of Probate plus a further £1.50 for each additional copy of the Grant.
In a typical estate administration matter there may also be other disbursements including (but not limited to):
- A Trustee Act notice fee for notices in the London Gazette and local newspaper(s) to protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors. The cost of Trustee Act notices varies, depending on the newspaper(s) required, but is usually in the region of £250-£350 plus VAT. We would obtain a quotation for the executors prior to placing such notices.
- Where a property is comprised in the estate, a Land Registry search fee of £3 for a copy of the title register.
- Land Registry fees if the estate includes a property which is to be transferred (please see the Land Registry fee calculator: landregistry.data.gov.uk/fees-calculator.html).
- Share registrar fees if shareholdings are to be transferred from the deceased’s name to the name of a beneficiary. The cost would be advised by the share registrar at the time.
- Foreign lawyers’ fees (to the extent that the estate includes non-UK assets and foreign advice is sought).
Please note that there may also be inheritance tax to pay. This will depend upon the value of the estate and whether any inheritance tax exemptions apply.
Qualification and experience
Our team has extensive experience in estate administration matters and has particular expertise in high value estates and inheritance tax matters.
All members of our private client team have experience in dealing with estate administration and work is always supervised by one of the five partners in the team – please click the "Team" tab above for details of the team members who may work on your matter. From time to time members of the team may be assisted by a trainee – details of the particular members of the team dealing with your matter will be provided to you if you choose to instruct us.
This page was last amended on 22 May 2023