The Role of a Probate Lawyer
A probate lawyer is a legal professional who helps executors of the estate, or ‘administrators’ if there is no valid will, to manage the probate process.
If claims are brought against the estate or the will is contested, they can also help to manage the disbursement of the estate to the beneficiaries.
Typically, a probate lawyer charges by the hour, and The Law Society suggests that total legal fees for probate can range from £1,000 to £3,000 or more. This depends on the complexity of the estate.
Although hiring a probate lawyer may add to the initial cost of probate, their expertise can save time and prevent costly errors.
They can also help to ensure that all debts and taxes are correctly paid, and that the final distribution of assets is carried out according to the law. They are a good option to consider, particularly if the executor themselves is not familiar with probate law.
Using a Probate Fees Calculator
While probate fees calculators can provide ballpark estimates, they cannot account for all possible complexities and costs.
It is best to consult a legal professional for a more accurate assessment of potential probate fees and expenses.
Whilst these calculators can provide a rough estimate of the cost, they are not completely accurate. For example, if there is no valid will, or if disputes arise among beneficiaries, additional legal fees may be incurred that the calculator could not account for.
Furthermore, a probate fees calculator does not take into account any potential inheritance tax or capital gains tax that may be due, which potentially significantly increases the overall cost of probate.
It is necessary to note that a probate fees calculator should not replace professional advice. It’s always recommended to consult with a probate lawyer or other legal professional, offering a more accurate understanding of potential probate costs.
Probate and Estate Administration Costs
In addition to the probate application fee and any legal fees, there are other costs involved in probate and estate administration. Typically, these are related to the handling of the deceased’s assets.
Remember that there may be costs involved in collecting assets, such as closing bank accounts or selling property. Furthermore, there may also be costs associated with paying debts or taxes owed by the estate.
If the estate includes property, there may be capital gains tax to pay if the property has increased in value between the time of death and the time of sale.
Additionally, some estates may have multiple bank or building society accounts. In such cases, each financial institution may charge its own administration fee.
Professional services like property valuations, accountants and auctioneers may also be needed, generating further costs payable from the estate.
Average Cost of Probate and Contributing Factors
The average cost of probate can vary widely. The Law Society estimates average solicitor fees for probate range from £2,000 – £10,000. This excludes taxes and disbursements.
The wide range demonstrates how costs are influenced by the complexity of the estate. However, the exact cost of probate can be influenced by various factors.
If the estate consists of numerous assets, including multiple properties, businesses, and investments, or if there are foreign assets, the cost can be higher.
Similarly, if the estate is complicated due to disputes among beneficiaries or claims from unknown creditors, additional legal services may be required. This further increases the probate cost.
The presence of a valid will can also impact the total cost. For instance, if there is no will or if the existing will is contested, the probate process can become more complex and costly.
If the deceased person has not kept clear and comprehensive estate accounts, additional time and effort may be needed to identify and value the estate assets. This can further add to the cost.
Professional legal services can help to ensure that the process is handled correctly and efficiently, ultimately saving time and stress. Rather than attempting to handle the probate process yourself, it’s worth considering hiring a Solicitor to save on legal costs. Whilst it may cost you money, it will allow you to avoid mistakes and misunderstandings.
Can You Get Legal Aid for probate?
Obtaining legal aid for probate can be challenging since legal aid is primarily available for certain types of cases, such as those involving criminal matters or issues related to family law. However, in specific circumstances, there may be some assistance available to help with probate fees.
It is advisable to consult with legal aid organisations or seek advice from a solicitor specialising in probate law to explore potential options. In some cases, individuals with limited financial means may be eligible for limited legal aid for probate, particularly if the estate is complex or there are disputes involved.
It is crucial to research the specific eligibility criteria and requirements for legal aid for probate in the respective jurisdiction to determine if such assistance is accessible.