Frederick Rine Solicitors

PROBATE; ESTATE ADMINISTRATION AND WILL WRITING: OUR SERVICES AND FEES

Our small Probate and Estate Administration team, led by one of our partners, Mr Fredrick Twum-Barima, can offer advice on a wide range of estates. The team deal with international estates and contentious probate. We provide legal advice and support to executors dealing with the estate of a deceased person, sensitively guiding them through what can be a complex process.

INTERNATIONAL ESTATES

We have experience in dealing with estates with assets in other jurisdictions or where the deceased was domiciled in another country.

ASSISTANCE AND GUIDANCE ON TAX EFFICIENT ADMINISTRATION OF THE ESTATE

We are able to assist you with the completion of inheritance tax forms and can provide guidance on the most tax efficient administration of the estate. We can also prepare the estate accounts which the executors are obliged to produce to beneficiaries on conclusion of the administration.

INTESTACY

Legal Advice if Someone Dies Without a Will

If someone dies without a Will, then the estate will be administered according to the laws of intestacy. Our experienced solicitors can guide you through the Intestacy Rules to help you manage how the estate is divided when someone dies without a will.

Grant of Letters of Administration

A Grant of Letters of Administration will be required and administrators rather than executors will be appointed. Intestacy can sometimes lead to a number of problems that our solicitors can help you with.

Missing Beneficiaries & Relatives

Missing relations and sometimes assets will need to be traced. Our solicitors can assist in locating missing beneficiaries, or if they have died, obtaining death certificates.

IN SUMMARY, OUR SERVICES INCLUDE:

  • submitting the application to the Probate Registry and receiving the grant.
  • submitting statutory notices to notify creditors of the death
  • arranging for payment of inheritance tax
  • drafting the appropriate inheritance tax return forms
  • securing the property and ensuring that buildings insurance is maintained
  • meeting with you to go through the terms of the Will, or explain the intestacy provisions if there is no Will
  • identifying the extent of the estate, the assets and liabilities and ascertaining their value in accordance with HMRC’s requirements, for inheritance tax purposes (including any charges on properties)
  • arranging for personal belongings to be valued
  • corresponding with HMRC to confirm the income tax position up to the date of death and computing final lifetime tax returns, if required
  • investigating and considering any available inheritance tax reliefs that may be applied to the estate
  • preparing the appropriate oath for executors/administrators

The post-Grant work is likely to involve:

  • advising on the distribution of the estate, including on interim distributions.
  • selling or collecting in all assets
  • settling all liabilities
  • finalising the inheritance tax liability and advising on any instalments of tax to be paid
  • completing administration income tax/capital gains tax returns
  • producing full estate accounts for approval
  • registering an estate as a ‘complex estate’ with HMRC

OUR FEES

1-2% of estate value +VAT

Prices typically range from 2% of the gross value of an estate valued at £500,000 or less, to 1% of an estate valued at over £3 million

Our prices for estate administration range from 2% of the gross value of an estate valued at £500,000 or less, to 1% for an estate valued at over £3 million. In each case VAT at 20% is charged on our fees in addition to the agreed fee.

No two estates are the same. Each will comprise specific assets and have its own qualities. Because of this, we can’t give you a reliable estimate of the cost to do the work until we have more details, however we can give you a guide. We will usually offer a choice of costs charged on a time-spent basis, or a fixed fee.

We will always give you individual costs information at the start of the work, taking into account the details of the estate. We will always advise you about any complications that may arise.

Hourly rate

We will usually offer a choice of costs charged on a time-spent basis, or a fixed fee. Our hourly rates are as follows:

  • Trainee Solicitor – £120
  • Solicitor/Consultant – £240 to £275
  • Partner – £300 to £400

 

Additional services

The costs set out above do not include the following services, and we can provide a separate fee estimate for these services, if required:

  • selling any flat or house in the estate
  • administering a trust arising out of the will
  • any contentious aspects of the administration
  • advising on any deed of variation to vary the terms of the Will
  • assisting with any ‘compliance check’ (audit) of the estate by HMRC.

Possible complicating factors

When setting the pricing options, we take into account the complexity of the estate. For example, an estate with one beneficiary and no property will be more straightforward that an estate with multiple beneficiaries and many different assets.

Other complicating factors include:

  • estates with missing beneficiaries
  • estates with charities and individuals receiving shares of residue
  • estates with shareholdings held in certificate form

Timescales

In most cases, at start of an administration it can be difficult to predict a timescale, because it often depends on how quickly third parties (e.g. HMRC and the Probate Registry) are able to respond to us and provide information.

To obtain a grant of representation usually takes between two and four months from the date we are instructed, depending on the complexity of the estate and the availability of information.

We also advise on the timescale and steps for the second stage of the estate administration work, following issue of a grant. The post-grant work may take six months or more, depending on the complexity of the estate.

Disbursements not included in fee estimate:

In addition to our fees, other costs will arise during the administration, which are payable to third parties. These costs are called ‘disbursements’ and include the probate fee (currently £155 for the Grant, plus £1.50p per copy), a fee for swearing the oath by the personal representatives (minimum £7 per person), a Land Registry fee for obtaining copies of the title of the property (currently £3.00) and statutory notices (expected to be in the region of £175 to £275), if required. We will keep you updated on these expenses throughout the matter and let you know in advance before they are incurred. We will also inform you if additional exceptional expenses are required.

Our costs are an estate administration expense. They need to be approved by the executors or administrators before they are deducted from the estate.

MAKING A WILL

It is crucial that your Will is geared around your own personal situation at any given time. Your circumstances may be simple where you would like to provide for certain family members. Alternatively, you may wish to provide for a spouse but at the same time to protect the inheritance of children from an earlier marriage.

OUR STANDARD WILLS SERVICE

We have designed this Service to cover a number of straight forward, typical situations where there is not a requirement for complicated or unusual provisions, including:

  • Couples who wish to leave their respective estates to each other and, failing that, to their children;
  • Couples who wish to leave their estates to each other and failing that to one or more named beneficiaries; and
  • An individual who wishes to leave his or her estate to named beneficiaries.

In each of the above situations, the Wills can include provisions disposing of personal effects, leaving a reasonable number of cash legacies, stating funeral wishes and where relevant ensure the appointment of guardians.

During an initial consultation, your lawyer will be able to confirm if the Standard Wills Service is suitable for you and confirm the cost involved. It is at this meeting your lawyer can take a full note of your wishes. After the meeting we will prepare the Will(s) and send the finished product to you for signature with full instructions on how to sign. If you prefer, we can oversee the signature of the Will(s) at our offices and provide the necessary witnesses.

If additional meetings are required, these will be charged at your lawyer’s hourly rate.

FEES FOR OUR STANDARD WILL SERVICE

  • Single Will £150 plus VAT •Couple mirror image Wills £300 plus VAT
  1. Fees quoted are valid for 30 days from receipt.
  2. The fees quoted do not include any subsequent work, such as amending your Wills to reflect a change in your instructions or the drafting of additional documents, such as letters of wishes or notices of severance.
  3. Additional advice not included in the Standard Wills Service (such as tax planning) will be charged on the basis of time spent at the lawyer’s hourly rate with your prior agreement.
  4. All of our consultations are face to face. Consultations outside our office can be arranged but an additional charge will be made for the time spent travelling, plus expenses.

STATUTORY WILLS

Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, when someone lacks mental capacity, their financial affairs may be subject to the control of the Court of Protection.

The person may be an adult or child and could lack capacity for many different reasons including through physical or mental illness, learning disability or brain damage following a road or other accident. When the Court makes a Statutory Will on behalf of an individual who lacks capacity it has the same effect as if that person had had the capacity to make a valid Will.

Why you can’t just make a “normal” will

If a person without capacity signs a Will it may well subsequently be challenged by others on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity. If a person lacks the necessary understanding required to be able to make a Will on their own an application should be made to the Court of Protection for what is known as Statutory Will to be drafted and approved on their behalf.

The Court Of Protection

The Court of Protection is a special section of the Court which deals with applications relating to those persons who are not mentally capable of managing their own affairs. It works with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) which oversees the general management of the affairs of people lacking capacity. The function of these bodies is to ensure that the affairs of anyone that lacking mental capacity are handled properly.

Lasting Powers of Attorneys and Deputies

If the person who has lost capacity had previously prepared a Lasting Power of Attorney which has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian those appointed as Attorneys can apply to the Court to have a Statutory Will drawn up and approved. However sometimes a Lasting Power of Attorney is not prepared and in those circumstances the default procedure is for a Deputy to be appointed by the Court. It is often a member of the family or a friend of the person who lacks capacity.

The Role of a Deputy

A Deputy performs a very similar role to an Attorney but rather than being the choice of the Donor Deputies are appointed by the Court of Protection to manage either finance and or health and welfare matters. Unlike Attorneys whose actions and behaviour once they are appointed are not monitored by anyone the Court appointed Deputies are specifically supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian.

Applying to the Court for a Statutory Will

An Attorney or Deputy can make an application for a Statutory Will. Also a Beneficiary under an existing Will is also entitled to make an application but would need to establish the incapacity of the person concerned. The application should set out all the financial circumstances of the impaired person as well as the arrangements currently made for their care, it should also explain who forms part of their family and the nature of the relationships. A full Doctors report is also required at the same time. This detailed information allows the Court to build a picture of the people who might be expected to inherit something in the event of the persons death. A draft of the proposed Will setting out how the estate will be divided in the event of the persons death will also be provided to the Court.

Approving a Statutory Will

Once the application is made to the Court the Judge will appoint the Official Solicitor to look at the application from a completely independent perspective and make the representations to the Court to sort the necessary in order for the Will to be fair to everybody concerned. Those who would be prejudiced or otherwise affected by the new Will can be parties to the hearing and have a chance to make representations. At the end of the day it is the Court that makes the final decision as to what the Will should say and what its provisions for inheritance should be and all the parties must abide by that decision. Once the Will is approved by the Court an order is then made allowing the applicant to sign the Will on behalf of the person lacking capacity. The Court can seal the Will with the official seal of the Court of Protection. The Will is now a legally valid and binding document as good as a Will made in any other way with proper legal advice. Any subsequent application for alterations to an approved statutory will would have to show such a change that was in the mentally incapacitated person’s best interests. The evidence of why the existing document should be changed would have to be very persuasive before a Judge would consider altering the statutory Will. The process involved in obtaining the Statutory Will can be complicated and a typical application costs anything up to £3000. This includes the cost of the Official Solicitors involved in the matter. If you need any further advice please contact Frederick Twum Barima or Catherine Abu  and Edward Lishak on 0208 44098733 or email Frederickrinesolicitors@yahoo.com

What is a statutory gift?

It is important that Attorneys and Deputies consider any estate planning which may be in the best interest of the person who lacks mental capacity to make decisions about such matters. It is important here to stress that an Attorney acting either under an Enduring Power of Attorney or a Lasting Power of Attorney has no right to make gifts of a Donor’s assets. Unless the Donor has the mental capacity to do this themselves an application must be made on their behalf to the Court of Protection. The Court will require full details of the financial circumstances of the impaired person, details of their family, a full medical report and detailed information about the Donor. If the Court considers that a gift will be desirable in all the circumstances and particularly bearing in mind possible future needs of the Donor, then a Court order can be given allowing the gift to be made. Any statutory gift being made will still be subject to the same inheritance tax rules namely the 7 year rule whereby if the Donor was to die within 7 years of the date of the statutory gift the asset will be bought back into his/her estate for inheritance tax purposes.