Estate Administration

// assistance with all aspects of applying for probate and administering an estate.

When a person who has made a Will dies the appointed executors apply to the Probate Court for a Grant of Probate which provides them with authority to deal with the estate.  Where there is no Will, an application is made for Letters of Administration. 

The Executor/Administrator is responsible for:-

  • arranging for disposal of the body; 
  • obtaining the death certificate; 
  • ascertaining the deceased’s assets and liabilities;
  • assessing the value of the deceased’s assets; 
  • obtaining probate/letters of administration, where necessary; 
  • paying the deceased’s debts, outstanding taxes and funeral expenses; 
  • paying cash legacies out, distributing gifts of specific items to beneficiaries;
  • distributing the remaining estate according to the terms of the Will or the law on intestacy

Our estate administration services have been developed to relieve the burden for our clients at what we recognise is a difficult time.    When instructed we can provide a full range of services from dealing with complete administration of the estate to advising on or assisting with any specific aspect of the process which might be causing difficulties.      

Typical estate administration process

The typical estate administration process can be summarised as follows: 

  • reviewing the Will to identify executors and beneficiaries;
  • meeting with you to identify how the estate is made up, checking the funeral arrangements and explaining your responsibilities as the Executor/administrator; 
  • determining the value of the assets and liabilities of the estate by contacting banks, insurance companies, pension administrators and other relevant organisations together with known creditors;
  • when appropriate, placing statutory advertisements giving notice to creditors; 
  • notifying council tax, utility providers, benefits agency and others of death; 
  • providing advice in relation to the Inheritance Tax aspects of the estate and preparing the necessary forms for submission to HM Revenue and Customs, including calculation of any Inheritance Tax due and liaising with you to agree how that payment is to be made;
  • making application for the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration; 
  • registering the Grant in order to collect in the deceased’s savings and assets and arranging payment of the funeral expenses and other liabilities of the estate; 
  • overseeing the sale of any property belonging to the deceased in consultation with the Executors and beneficiaries; 
  • passing over specific gifts made by the deceased to appropriate beneficiaries and, wherever possible, making interim distributions to beneficiaries; 
  • after assets have been realised and liabilities settled, distributing the remainder of the estate in accordance with the terms of the deceased’s Will or the laws of intestacy.

Why instruct Hodge Halsall?

  • We have decades of experience in administering estates and can remove the administrative burden and stress from you; 
  • We can identify pitfalls and potential problems that may arise during the course of the administration; 
  • We can recognise potential tax planning opportunities and advise you accordingly, for example:
  • the use of deeds of variation to maximise potential inheritance tax (IHT) savings;
  • utilising available capital gains tax (CGT) allowances and thereby minimising CGT liabilities; 
  • reviewing potential Business Property Relief and Agricultural Property Relief opportunities; 
  • reviewing residence nil rate band and downsizing reliefs
  • We can advise on potential claims against the estate and on methods of dealing with them

How long will the administration take?

Typically, obtaining a Grant takes three to six months.  Administering the estate can then begin and most estates can be completed within twelve months.    Smaller estates can be dealt with in a shorter timescale.  More complex estates and those involving trusts or where there are disputes/claims against the estate can take longer.  When we have details of the estate we can provide you with a more accurate estimate of the likely timescale. 

What it costs

Our charges are calculated on the amount of time spent in administering the estate and the status of the person carrying out that work.   The amount of work we perform will depend upon the number of assets and liabilities of the estate and the number of beneficiaries.  Our team consists of qualified Solicitors with many years of collective experience between them in delivering quality work at a competitive price.       

Our hourly rates for our Probate team are £255.00 per hour excluding VAT.  You may feel able to deal with most of the administration of a simple estate personally and only require our assistance with the actual application for a grant of representation.  In this event, we would need you to provide us with all the information we need in order to prepare the application.  In that event, we are able to assist and charge a fixed fee of £700.00 plus VAT and the necessary disbursements.  If a full Inheritance Tax account needs to be submitted, our fee would be between £900.00 and £1,500.00 plus VAT.

A straight forward estate administration with an estate of a value of around £250,000, with no more than five bank/building society accounts, a property to sell and no more than four beneficiaries, the fees would be between £3,750.00 plus VAT and £5,000.00 plus VAT to administer the entire estate.

We understand that the size and nature of each estate is different and it is difficult to provide an accurate indication of what our fees would be without knowing all the details of a particular case.  We are happy to discuss specifics of your Probate and estate administration needs.  We will need to have details of the make-up of the estate and before any work is carried out, we will provide you with a comprehensive costing proposal to enable you to make an informed decision.

Our costs include:

  • appointment of a specialist solicitor to handle the administration; 
  • any required meetings with you; 
  • identification of executors or administrators and beneficiaries; 
  • preparing the application for a Grant and any relevant inheritance tax forms; 
  • drafting of the Legal Statement; 
  • arranging statutory notices; 
  • closing accounts, arranging the sale or transfer of investments and assets; 
  • preparing Estate accounts; 
  • distributing the estate to beneficiaries

Our costs assume:

  • there is a valid Will; 
  • the nominated executors are willing to take out the Grant; 
  • there is a single residential property – the cost of dealing with the sale or transfer of any such property is not included in our estimate; 
  • all assets are based in the UK; 
  • there are no more than 5 bank/building society accounts; 
  • there are no other intangible assets; 
  • there are no more than five beneficiaries who can be easily located; 
  • there are no disputes between beneficiaries about distribution of the estate; 
  • there is no inheritance tax payable and the executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC; 
  • no claims are made against the estate.

Factors that are likely to cause the cost of administration to increase

  • disputes about the assets making up the estate, the valuation of those assets or whether the Will is fair; 
  • there is inheritance tax to pay; 
  • estates with more than one property; 
  • there are business or farm interests in the estate; 
  • there are more than five beneficiaries or the whereabouts of beneficiaries is unknown; 
  • if the estate consists of more than 3 shareholdings where there will be a need to obtain share valuations and sell or transfer the shareholdings; 
  • if a caveat is entered at the Probate Registry which requires removal; 
  • if there are missing share certificates, insurance policies and other necessary documentation; 
  • if lifetime gifts have been made in excess of the annual allowances; 
  • any trust interests held by the deceased
  • if there are any foreign assets

This list is not exhaustive.  In any case where an additional cost is likely to arise we will give you a price indication once we have the relevant information from you. 

Disbursements

All fees quoted exclude disbursements, expenses and third party costs, such as those of estate agents, valuers and conveyancing costs.  Disbursements typically include: 

  • a probate application fee – currently £273.00 plus £1.50 for each official copy of the Grant required; 
  • Land Registry search fees of £6.00 for each property held within the estate; 
  • statutory notice fees – £250.00 plus VAT (approximately); 
  • indemnity and administration fees to company registrar’s for lost share certificates or unpaid dividends; 
  • bankruptcy only search – £2.00 per beneficiary 

Our team

Our estate administration team have a reputation for delivering sound and practical advice.  They take a personal interest in each client and are there to assist you at every stage in what is understood to be a difficult time and process for you and your family.  The team is headed by Gordon Hatton, Partner and Head of Private Client and includes Solicitors Rebecca Ind and Sarah Parkinson.    Each member of our team is available by phone, email or face to face depending on your preference.  All members of the team have more than twelve years’ experience.