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probate fees

The cost of probate in 2019 and where to get help from solicitors

This article was updated on 23 May 2019 and the original article included a contribution from Susan Gledholme.

In this article we will explain:

  • what probate is
  • who it applies to
  • when probate may not be required
  • probate fees that apply and the probate application fee
  • probate fees that are likely to apply from later in 2019
  • the average cost of probate
  • the pitfalls of doing it yourself
  • where you can find a probate solicitor and probate services
  • the approximate fee for a solicitor to do probate

What is Probate and when is it required?

Probate is a legal process  that is required where someone applies for the right to deal with the affairs of a person who has died.

‘Probate’ is used to describe both the Grant of Probate and the process involved in obtaining it.

Here is a short video explaining what probate is. However, please note that the video references the new costs whose introduction has been delayed by the government.  We explain what these are later down this page.

Cost of probate

The cost of probate is split between the fixed costs, which is the application fee, and the variable costs, which are the costs of the specialist you use, whether that be a solicitor, probate professional or a bank. Fixed fees range from £155 and variable fees range from about 2% to 5% of the value of the estate. For an estate worth £100,000, the variable costs will range from £2,000 to £5,000 plus VAT.

Fixed fee probate costs – The probate application fee

Whenever you apply for probate there is an application fee that is payable.

  • If the deceased person’s estate is worth over £5,000 ( once the funeral costs and debts have been paid) , there is a flat rate fee of £215 for applications made by an individual; or
  • £155 for applications made by a probate solicitor or specialist
  • These fixed probate fees are going to go up substantially for some later in 2019 – see below.

The variable fees of probate

The cost of administering an estate can vary widely depending on who does it, whether that be a solicitor, probate specialists or a bank. The costs for these range between 2.5 to 5% of the value of the estate.  More detailed information on each of these options can be found below. 

Whether you use probate solicitors or professionals, they typically charge either an hourly rate, fixed fee or can charge a fee that is a percentage of the value of the estate.

However, if the estate is small and uncomplicated you can keep the costs of probate low by applying for it yourself.

How much does probate cost?

As you can see the cost of probate can be quite ranging.  The fixed costs are predictable but the variable costs can be quite expensive, especially if you are paying 5% of the value of the estate.  For an estate worth £500,000 the costs would be £25,000 plus VAT plus the fixed costs.

Who can help you with the probate process

Typically you will seek the support of either a probate solicitor, probate specialist or the bank of the deceased when you are about to start the probate process.

We have set out details of the typical costs you will face.

Solicitors fees for probate

  • Solicitor’s fees for probate are usually calculated as between 3% to 5% of the value of the estate, plus VAT.  Therefore, if your estate is valued at £500,000 then the solicitor’s costs will range from £15,000 – £25,000 plus VAT. Therefore with VAT at 20% this will increase these costs to £18,000 and £30,000.
  • Solicitor’s hourly rates will differ depending on the level and experience of the staff involved in your case.
  • In some cases it will be difficult for you to manage the estate yourself and you may need  the services of a probate specialist such as a probate solicitor.
  • Probate solicitors will be experienced and will be able to help you navigate through what is a complicated process. This is an essential part of the probate services that they offer.

Probate specialists fees

  • Probate specialists will do exactly the same job as a solicitor or a bank but will often be cheaper.
  • Typically probate specialists will charge between 2.5% – 5% plus VAT.
  • For UK Care Guide site users, we have agreed a special discounted preferential rate with Trust Inheritance. They are an award winning bereavement services company who pride themselves on giving the best support service available. The feedback we have received from people that have used them has been exceptional. You can find their contact details later down this page.

Bank fees for probate

  • Banks tend to be more expensive than using probate solicitors or specialists.
  • Banks typically charge a higher rate of around 4 % to 5% of an estates value, plus VAT.
  • Our view is that you should use a probate specialist rather than your bank.

How the UK Care Guide can help you with probate

We have partnered with Trust Inheritance, the UK’s leading probate specialists, to bring our site users a cost effective but premium level probate service.  The costs for the service start at only £500 plus VAT and you can choose how much you want to do and how much you want Trust Inheritance to do.

The services are broken down in to 3 tiers, which essentially allow you to choose how involved you want to be in the probate process.

1 – “Tell me what to do”

This is a fantastic and in-depth, comprehensive, online ‘Do it Yourself’ service, giving you everything you need to ensure you have dealt with the estate in line with your responsibilities and liability as a personal representative.

This toolkit can be used whether a Grant of Representation ( also known as the Grant of Probate, Administration or Confirmation) is required or not, even if a Will was not left.

This is a great tool to help families, executors and administrators discover what to do when someone dies. From the immediate steps to take, for example, registering the death, obtaining a death certificate, arranging a funeral, looking after dependents or securing the property; to distributing the property or possessions of the deceased.

Below are the benefits of the online toolkit:

  • Register a death
  • Arrange a funeral
  • Secure property, arrange care for dependents and pets
  • Securely produce Government forms within the toolkit
  • 50 pre-populated letter templates for notifying organisations, beneficiaries and other interested parties
  • Automated checklists
  • Estate accounts produced in accordance with the law in England & Wales
  • Time saving, as everything is in one place
  • Trusted links to expert services
  • Technical support

Basically this gives you everything you need and the cost of this support is only £500 plus VAT. You will struggle to find such a comprehensive service at a lower cost.

2 – “Give me some help”

This is the next tier up and gives you everything that you would get in the ‘Tell me what to do” approach above.

In addition to all the benefits of the ‘Tell me what to do” approach, we will also Fast Track the Grant of Representation application. Trust Inheritance will appoint you a personal Bereavement Adviser who will be by your side through the whole process.

As Trust Inheritance are a Trust Corporation, less information is required by the Courts when they apply for the Grant on your behalf.

This means Court fees are reduced saving money against the estate and crucially, the Grant is expedited and issued within weeks of application, rather than months; quickly freeing up funds to cover costs and expenses, as well as allowing interim payments to be made to those who are due to benefit much sooner.

If you are looking to get through the probate process quickly then this will really be beneficial to you.

The costs for this level of personal support are only £1,500 plus VAT.

3 – “Do it all for me”

This is the 3rd tier and essentially means that Trust Inheritance will do everything for you. This is the most comprehensive service you can get.

You will be assigned a Solicitor, who will deal with the entire matter for you and will be on hand throughout. They will cover everything needed in order to finalise the Estate Administration and to ensure your legal responsibilities are adhered to.

The costs for this level of total support are 1.99% of the value of the estate subject to a minimum of £2,250 plus VAT.  This approach will work best for those that would prefer to let someone else deal with all the various bodies that need to be notified once someone passes away.  As a comparator these costs are typically half of what a bank would look to charge you.

What you need to do next

If you would like some help and either know which of the 3 tiered approach you would like to use, or would just like to chat through each to help you decide which is right for you; please call us on 0800 840 1187 or you can leave your contact details at the bottom of this page and someone will be in touch to help.

The average costs of probate and how they are calculated

Probate fees vary widely so it is difficult to say what average probate costs are.  

It can be cheaper to use a probate solicitor when compared to a bank, however a probate specialist is likely to be even cheaper. They can charge anything from £100 per hour to £300 per hour.  

Solicitor probate fees are usually based on guidance from the Law Society which sets an initial fee of 0.75% of the value of the property, plus 1.5% of the value of other assets, and other charges on top of that.  

Bear in mind that more complex cases involving more hours of work or those with unexpected complications can make the probate charges much higher. A contentious probate (click here to read more about what this is) can make these costs even higher.  

It is advisable to contact a few companies for quotes to get an idea of average probate costs.   It is also important to find a solicitor who is approachable and sympathetic, and whose advice you understand.

Many firms will ask you to complete a detailed fact-finding questionnaire before they start the work so that they can give you an idea of the likely costs.  

However, it is often not possible to know immediately what may be involved and how much advice and help is needed.  It is possible to keep costs down by doing some of the work yourself. Also, ask to keep correspondence down to only that which is essential as the charges for sending letters quickly add up.

Keep in mind that the cost of probate is usually paid from the estate so you won’t have to worry about getting into financial difficulties.

Who offers the best value for money?

As you can see from above, there are 3 types of organisations that can support you with probate.   They all do exactly the same thing but the costs vary significantly.

If we take the example of someone with an estate of £300,000, without including disbursements, as they would all charge similar for this, this is how the costs would break down.

  • Using a bank with a 5% fee = £15,000 plus VAT at 20% (£3,000). The total cost would be £18,000 plus disbursements
  • Using a solicitor charging 3.5% = £10,500 plus VAT at 20% (£2,100).  The total cost would be £12,600 plus disbursements
  • Using a Probate specialist, charging 1.99% = £5,970 plus VAT at 20% (£1,194).  The total cost would be £7,164 plus disbursements.

As you can see the difference in cost between using a bank and a probate specialist is extraordinary.  A probate specialist is more than half of the price of a bank and still significantly cheaper than a solicitor.  The key thing to remember here is that all three provide the same type of service.

In our experience, using probate specialists or solicitors will often also mean you get a more personal service.

Would you like some help dealing with the process of Probate and making sure you don't spend any more than you need to?

3 Reasons Why You Should Use Us

Alternatively, you can leave your contact details below and a specialist will get in contact to help you.

All our probate work is undertakn by Trust Inheritance, a leading UK probate specialist

- One of the cheapest services in the UK with costs starting at only £500 plus VAT

 

- We aim to deliver a premium level service

 

- We pride ourselves on how quickly we are able to help you complete the probate process

 

Call 0800 840 1187 and we can start helping you straight away.

 

How much do solicitors charge for probate and what is the approximate fee for a solicitor to do probate?

  • There are some probate solicitors that charge a fixed fee or a flat fee for their services.  There are other solicitors that will charge you  fee based on a percentage of the estate which is usually between 3%-5% of the estates value plus VAT.  This is instead of a fixed fee. So if, for example, your estate is worth £500,000 then they will charge between £15,000 and £25,000.  However, VAT at 20% would increase these costs to £18,000 (at a 3% charge) and £30,000 (at a 5% charge).
  • When you look at how much solicitors charge for probate you will need to decide whether a flat fee or a percentage of the estate works out better for you.
  • Many firms will ask you to complete a detailed fact-finding questionnaire before they start the work so that they can give you an idea of the likely cost.

Can you get fixed fee probate solicitors?

There are some probate solicitors that charge a fixed fee for their services.   It is advisable to get quotes from a few fixed fee probate solicitors so that you can compare their prices.

If the estate is worth over £325,000 and Inheritance Tax is payable then the solicitor would ask for more information in order to determine the value and complexity of the estate.   They would then quote a fixed fee based on the information given.

However,  fixed fee quotes are always subject to change if information is given wrongly or new complexities arise.

Where can I find a solicitor to help me with probate?

We have spoken to a number of probate specialists and concluded that Trust Inheritance are the best option in the UK at the minute.

They offer a good balance between low costs and a very personal and attentive service.  The feedback we have had from those that have used their service has been fantastic.

You can call Trust Inheritance directly on 0800 840 1187 or you can leave your contact details on this page and someone will be in touch to help you.

how much does probate cost

The most common questions related to Probate

What is the Grant of probate

  • If the person who died left a will, the executor of the estate can apply for a ‘Grant of Probate’ – a legal document which proves they have the authority to manage the estate
  • If the person didn’t leave a will, a close relative of the deceased can apply for a ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’ – this is also referred to as ‘probate’
  • A Grant is usually needed if  the deceased’s estate is worth over £5,000 (once debts and the funeral costs have been paid); owned stocks or shares or had property or land in their own name
  • A Grant is not needed if the person who died held all their assets jointly with another person as everything would automatically pass down to the surviving joint owner
  • Probate fees are paid to the government in order to get approval for the distribution of a deceased person’s property, money and possessions

Grant of Letters of Administration

If the person who died did not leave a will, a close relative of the deceased can apply to the probate registry for a ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’ to manage the estate.  

This is also referred to as ‘probate’ because, for all practical purposes, the two types of grant are identical.

When do you need a Grant?

A Grant of Probate is usually needed when the person who died leaves one or more of the following:

  • £5,000 or more
  • stocks or shares
  • property or land held in their own name or if the spouses each own a separate share of the property – called ‘tenants in common

A Grant is not needed if the person who died held all their assets jointly with another person as everything would automatically pass down to the surviving joint owner.  However, some financial organisations may require a grant before giving you access to even a small amount of money.

If you are looking at what to do with probate following the death of a loved one, we’s recommend that you read our ‘Dealing with Bereavement’ guide, which sets out the all the steps you should take.

The probate process

  • The probate process can take up to a year or even longer if you are dealing with a complicated estate or a contentious probate
  • You have to wait until all claims have been received before you can start dealing with the estate
  • Anyone wishing to make a claim against the estate has 6 months from the date when probate was first granted
  • Any disputes must be sorted out before the affairs of the person who died can be settled
  • Inheritance Tax needs to be paid to HMRC once the estate has been settled if it is worth over £325,000. You can click here and read about how to avoid paying inheritance tax.

A more detailed explanation of the above information now follows.

How long will the process take?

It can take up to a year or even longer if you are dealing with a complicated estate (click here to read our article that sets out the expected probate timeline).  There may be many different organisations who are involved in the process, such as banks, building societies, insurance companies and HM Revenue and Customs.

You have to wait until all claims have been received before you can start dealing with the estate.   Anyone wishing to make a claim against the estate has 6 months from the date when probate was first granted.

 Arguments between family members, beneficiaries or personal representatives can also cause delays. Any disputes must be sorted out before the affairs of the person who died can be settled.

There are also other things that may affect the time taken, such as:

  • whether the financial affairs of the person who died were in order;
  • what the person who died owned and where it is;
  • whether the person who died had an interest in a business or a farm;
  • what the will or the rules of intestacy say;
  • whether there are any legal disputes (claims against the estate or claims by the estate);
  • whether inheritance tax needs to be paid; and
  • making sure that all HM Revenue & Customs files are closed and that matters relating to income tax, benefits agencies and pensions have been sorted

How long does it take to receive the inheritance?

The probate process can take some time.  In our experience it can take between 6-9 month to receive your inheritance after probate is granted.

How is the cost for probate met?

The cost of probate is usually paid from the estate.

probate charges

When is probate not required?

When someone passes away, it is not automatic that you need to go through a probate process.

Estates that have a low value or are made up of assets that were jointly owned.  Probate is not required usually required in the following circumstances:

  • Property held as joint owners
  • Banks and building societies
  • Pensions
  • Life insurance policies
  • Foreign assets
  • A business

Property held as joint owners

A property that has been held through joint ownership will not require probate.  This is because the property will pass to the surviving owner under the laws of survivorship.

One area that causes confusion is the difference between tenants in common and joint tenants.  In some cases you will require a grant of probate in order for the deceased’s share to be transferred to the beneficiaries.

Banks and building societies

If there was a bank or building society account that was held in joint names that you will not need probate.  However, you will still have a responsibility to inform them of the death so that they can update their records and turn the account in to a single account in the name of the person that is still living. 

Pensions

If the deceased was in receipt of a pension you should inform the pension scheme or pension provider straight away.  They will then arrange for any pension payments to cease and to inform you if there are any surviving spouses pension payable.  

Life Insurance policies

If the life insurance policy had been set up so that any payment was made to a named beneficiary then probate will not be required.  

However, if the policy had no named beneficiary then the payment will be made to the estate.  Whether probate is subsequently required will depend on the value of the policy payout.

Foreign assets

If the deceased had foreign assets then you will need to check with the country where the assets are held to determine what their equivalent probate process is.  It is always advisable to seek the advice of a local specialist to that country as they will be able to deal with the whole process for you.

Businesses

If the deceased was a director or owner of a business then you should take advice from a professional when it comes to administering their business affairs.

You may find that the personal assets of the deceased do not require probate but their business assets might, for this reason.  You can contact one of the phone numbers on this page for some help if you feel this situation applies to you.

Beneficiary of a trust

If the deceased was a beneficiary of a trust you will need to take care when looking at how their assets are to be treated.

Unfortunately, when it comes to trusts it is not always a simple case of closing it down and distributing it.

Is there a probate spouse’s exemption?

The surviving spouse is not automatically exempt from the probate process, as it will depend on what the assets are and the ownership structure of these assets.

If the assets were in solely in the name of the deceased person then you might find that probate is required even if everything is being left to the spouse.  However, if the assets were in joint names, then depending on how the ownership is structured, it may be possible to transfer the assets to the surviving sole person without the need of going through the probate process.

How to avoid probate

Out simply, if your love one has already passed away, then subject to the exemptions above, it is not possible to avoid probate if the estate is above the probate threshold.

However, if the person has not yet passed away then it is possible to plan and try and avoid the probate process.   This is called Estate Planning (click here to read our article on how you can do this).

The costs of probate from later in 2019

The government announced in 2018 that they would be changing how much you had to pay for probate.  These changes were due to be implemented in April 2019 but that has been delayed.  However, we still expect the changes to be introduced some time this year.

The changes will do away with the fixed probate costs noted above (the £215 and £155 costs). 

If the estate is valued at £50,000 or below then there will be no probate fees payable.   According to the analysis produced by the Ministry of Justice this will mean around 25,000 estates won’t have to pay any costs.

However, if your estate is worth more than this, and many are, then you will see an increase in the fees that you have to pay.    See below for a breakdown of the costs:

  • Estates worth less than £50,000 – There will be no costs
  • Estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 will pay £250 – This is an increase of £25 from the current cost
  • Estates worth between £300,000 and £500,000 will pay £750 – This is an increase of £535
  • Estates worth between £500,000 and £1 million will pay £2,500 – This is an increase of £2,285
  • Estates worth between £1 million and £1.6 million will pay £4,000 – This is an increase of £3,785
  • Estates worth between £1.6 million and £2 million will pay £5,000  This is an increase of £4,785
  • Estates worth more than £2 million will pay £6,000 – This is an increase of £5,785

Why has the government made changes?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Ministry of Justice Lucy Frazer MP made a statement about the changes and why they were made.

In her statement she said: “This new banded fee model represents a fair and more progressive way to pay for probate services compared to the current flat fee and reflects our commitment to protecting access to justice by ensuring we have a properly funded and resourced courts system.

“We are also confident these fees will never be unaffordable. The cost of the fee is recoverable from the estate and executors have several options to fund it. Moreover, the Lord Chancellor retains a power to remit a fee if he considers there are exceptional circumstances.”

probate fees 2019

The pitfalls of DIY probate and why you should use a professional

With the huge increase in internet use and the wealth of information that can be found on it, more and more people are being tempted to deal with the administration of an estate themselves. This blog sets the factors you should consider.

Probate, the process of dealing with someone’s estate (property, possessions, cash, savings) when they pass away, can be applied for without seeing a lawyer, but it’s not without risks.

Official statistics indicate that the number of claims against executors for breach of fiduciary duty (in other words “getting it wrong”) has more than tripled in recent years. There is speculation that this increase is linked to the rise in DIY probate.

There are various factors to consider before deciding whether or not to handle the process yourself. These factors can include:

1 – Understand your responsibilities

Acting as an executor does not come without responsibilities. An executor is responsible for dealing with large sums of money, discharging debts and liabilities, some of which you might not know about and preserving the estate for the beneficiaries.

2 – The Will itself can be complicated

If it has been prepared by a lawyer then it may include legal language which is based on law developed other hundreds of years.

What you think the Will says may be different to what it actually says. Many professionally drafted Wills contain trusts; to save inheritance tax, to avoid those who inherit paying care fees and to reduce the likelihood of potential disputes.

These types of trust can be complicated to administer and to understand all of the tax implications when deciding how to deal with them.

probate application fee

3 – Understand your personal liability

An executor is often personally liable for compensating a beneficiary who has suffered a loss.

This may be due to the Will being misunderstood, a decision that has been made having a negative tax impact or assets in the estate losing value due to delay. These are a few of the many things that can go wrong when dealing with an estate.

4 – Amending entitlements

Beneficiaries can look to amend their entitlement under a deceased’s Will after the death, under the current inheritance tax rules. This might not always be known or obvious to the lay executor or beneficiaries.

There can potentially be negative inheritance tax consequences which can be addressed by such a variation and spotting this in time is crucial.

5 – Completing an Inheritance Tax return

In many cases an inheritance tax return will be required and the executors will need to account to HM Revenue & Customs for this. These accounts can be complicated even in what might appear to be the simplest estates.

The penalties for an incorrect return can also be severe. When was the last time you volunteered to complete a tax return?

6 – It can be time consuming

Dealing with a person’s estate can be a time consuming business. An experienced lawyer will know the process well and can get on with the administration of an estate efficiently.

7 – Value independence

A lawyer is also independent and allows an executor to keep beneficiaries at ‘arms length’ and can assist an executor in managing beneficiaries’ demands and any conflicts that may arise.

8 – Understand all the tax implications

Inheritance tax should not be the only tax you consider when administering a person’s estate.

At various stages of the administration there may also be capital gains tax and income tax matters to take into account. In particular there are often significant Capital Gains Tax savings to be made before selling a person’s home.

An experienced lawyer should identify these and help the executor and beneficiaries take advantage of these tax planning opportunities.

how much does probate cost uk

9 – Use a reputable lawyer

Finally, by using a reputable lawyer, an executor and the beneficiaries are afforded additional protection. A lawyer should retain any monies on behalf of the estate in a client account.

Solicitors are required to hold professional indemnity insurance are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

As elderly client specialists, we are also able to add value for example by identifying cases where money is owed to the estate for care funding which should have been met by the NHS and we can assist in making a claim on behalf of the family.

In all but the most straightforward cases, it is important to seek timely specialist advice to save money and worry.

Executors carry a certain amount of personal liability in their role and they can open themselves up to substantial legal claims if they are unaware of the law and their obligations.

When deciding whether to use a probate solicitor or not, bear in mind that:

  • you can be held legally responsible for any mistakes in administering the estate.  You need to ensure that all money owed to the Estate is paid and any debts owed by it are paid off
  • you will need to decide if any Inheritance Tax needs to be paid to HMRC once the estate has been settled.  Currently the threshold is £325,000
  • Probate is a very time consuming and sometimes stressful process which can takes weeks, or even up to a year in some cases, to complete.  This may be difficult to manage if you work full time and may impact on your free or family time

probate fees uk

About the author

Part of this content around the pitfalls of doing probate yourself was first published by Susan Glenholme, the Managing Partner for Debenhams Ottoway.

As well as being managing partner and head of the private wealth team, Susan is recognised by Chambers and Partners UK legal directory, features in the legal 500, as one of the leading private client lawyers in the UK.

Susan can be contacted on 01727 735 636.

average probate costs

Would you like some help dealing with the process of Probate and making sure you don't spend any more than you need to?

3 Reasons Why You Should Use Us

Alternatively, you can leave your contact details below and a specialist will get in contact to help you.

All our probate work is undertakn by Trust Inheritance, a leading UK probate specialist

- One of the cheapest services in the UK with costs starting at only £500 plus VAT

 

- We aim to deliver a premium level service

 

- We pride ourselves on how quickly we are able to help you complete the probate process

 

Call 0800 840 1187 and we can start helping you straight away.

 

More useful information below


Tips on avoiding Inheritance Tax

Tips on dealing with bereavement

Dealing with the Court of Protection

Would you like us to help you with Probate?  We can hold your hand through the process and costs start at only £500 plus VAT. Some of the cheapest in the UK. We will also provide you with a premium service for the low cost.

 

 

You can contact us by phone on

0800 840 1187 

Or you can leave your contact details below and we will get in touch to help

Would you like some help with the PROBATE process? You can call 0800 840 1187 and speak to a specialist straight away. Or leave your details here and someone will be in touch to help.