PRICE TRANSPARENCY NOVEMBER 2022
The aim of the new Transparency Rules is to ensure that you as consumers have the information that you need to make an informed choice of legal services provider, including understanding what the costs may be.
The new rules are being enforced by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and apply to all regulated law firms and individual freelance solicitors (subject to the introduction of such being approved by the LSB). Please note that all legal services providers are NOT solicitors and are therefore are not regulated.
At Hall Smith Whittingham LLP, all clients our client’s cases are assigned to a named solicitor who will have overall responsibility for your matter. Each solicitor, is then supported by designated support staff, this is done to ensure that you are always able to speak with a member of staff about your transaction.
At Hall Smith Whittingham LLP, we are also able to accommodate our clients with home appointments, if necessary. We also offer, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and Facetime appointments.
The firm also holds LEXCEL accreditation, is listed in the Legal 500 and the Conveyancing Quality kite mark.
PRICE TRANSPARENCY FOR PROBATE CASES
The following prices are for probate cases being dealt with under the terms of a Will or on the Intestacy Rules, where the matter is uncontested (not the subject of litigation) and all the deceased’s assets are in the UK.
At Hall Smith Whittingham LLP, we undertake probate work either on a fixed fee basis or upon an hourly rate basis. The charges applicable will depend upon the extent of our involvement in the matter and is agreed with the client when taking instructions to act.
Fixed Fee Service
We offer a fixed fee service, where we are being instructed to obtain on behalf of the client just the Grant of Probate (Will) or Letters of Administration (Intestate Estate). The client will then once the Probate/Letters of Administration is received, arrange for the encashment of the deceased’s assets and distribute the monies to the beneficiaries in due course. For fixed, fee work the client would obtain the necessary valuations for probate and supply these and other documents required by ourselves to enable us to prepare the necessary papers. We supply a Probate Questionnaire, to assist you with this.
We would then prepare the necessary Legal Statement and calculate the value of the estate for inheritance tax purposes to determine whether the estate falls within the excepted estate allowances as provided for by the Inland Revenue. In such cases then our costs are £950 plus VAT of £190.00; giving a total cost of £1,140.00.
In addition, to these charges there are usual disbursements and these are listed below and are applicable to all probate cases, whether undertaken upon a fixed fee basis or a time spent basis.
For more complex cases, where Inland Revenue forms IHT400 and associated schedules are required to be completed then we still offer a fixed fee service, again upon the basis that the client supplies the information noted above. In the event that the IHT400 forms are required but NO inheritance tax is payable then, our fixed costs are £1,800 plus VAT of £360; giving a total cost of £2,160.00. In cases where Inheritance Tax is payable then our costs will be £2,750 plus VAT of £550; giving a total cost of £3,300.00. Again, in addition the usual disbursements noted below apply and the payment of Inheritance Tax.
HOURLY RATE SERVICE
In the event that we are instructed to deal with the entire administration of an estate then our charges will be calculated by reference to the senior solicitor’s hourly rate of £265.00 per hour plus VAT of £53.00; total of £318.00 per hour. An hourly rate of £210.00 plus VAT of £42.00; total £252.00 for solicitors qualified 4 years or more. An hourly rate of £160 plus VAT of £32.00; total £192.00 for Trainee Solicitors and Paralegals.
Short letters and telephone calls are charged at 1/10th of the hourly rate. Charging rates will be reviewed from time to time and we will notify you of any changes.
On average our charges will amount to between 1½% – 2½% of the gross value of the estate. Once these figures are ascertained, we would then provide you with a more specific costs estimate.
We will notify you in writing of any additional unforeseen work involved and the likely cost implications, and ask for your authority before undertaking the work.
If your matter does not proceed to completion, we will only ask you to pay for the work that we have done. This will be charged at the hourly rate noted above. Any outstanding disbursements already paid on your behalf, will also be charged.
On average a simple estate comprising of a three to five bank accounts and a property, our costs would be in the region of £3,000 – £4,000 plus VAT, plus disbursements (please note that this does not include dealing with utility companies in relation to any property comprised within the estate). Conveyancing costs for the sale of a property are not included in this and would be separate and a quote for this can be provided upon request. Please note that, no account of inheritance tax is made in giving the costs estimate, this will be payable on top. It is also given upon the basis that there are no foreign assets; there are no disputes between the beneficiaries in the division of assets and there are no claims to be made against the estate.
In such cases we would undertake the following work: –
- Obtain the necessary probate valuations;
- Prepare the Legal Statement on the HMCTS portal or form PA1A or PA1P together, with the appropriate calculation of the value of the estate for inheritance tax purposes where there is no inheritance tax to payable and the executors do not need to submit a full account to the HMRC.
- Submit the necessary application to the Probate Registry
- Upon receipt of the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration, use the same to close the bank accounts.
- Arrange for the placement of Statutory Notices
- Undertake a REACH Will search on the National Wills Register.
- Arrange for distribution of any cash legacies to named individuals.
- Undertake bankruptcy searches prior to distribution of monies to the beneficiaries
- Arrange for the payment of estate liabilities, to include funeral and final household utility bills.
- Prepare Estate Accounts for approval by the Executor/Administrator prior to distribution of the Estate.
- Distribute the estate in accordance with the Will or the Intestacy Rules.
The exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter. For example, if there is one beneficiary and no property, costs will be at the lower end of the range. If there are multiple beneficiaries, a property, multiple bank accounts and inheritance tax to pay, costs will be at the higher end.
TIMESCALES AND KEY STAGES
|First 3 – 8 weeks||During this period, we would obtain the necessary probate valuations for the assets left by the deceased. Place Statutory Notices and undertake the Will Search (please note that the Will search period is 56 days).|
|Weeks 8 – 9||Prepare the Legal Statement or forms PA1A or PA1P together, with the calculation of the value of the estate for inheritance tax purposes.|
|Week 9||Attend you to sign the probate papers, inheritance tax forms and other encashment forms applicable to the estate. Submit application to the Probate Registry.|
In the event that we need to submit Inheritance Tax forms IHT400 to the Capital Taxes Office then we will not be able to submit the probate application to the probate registry until the expiry of 25 days.
|Weeks 9 – 17||Probate Registry will process our application.|
|Weeks 17 – 20||Upon receipt of the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration, we would use this to close bank accounts and other cash assets.|
Deceased property can be marketed for sale
|Weeks 20 – 22||Arrange for the payment of all estate liabilities, known to date and pay any cash legacies.|
|Weeks 22 – 24||Finalise the estate. Prepare Final estate accounts and see your approval to the same and then distribute the estate (subject to the estate not being Inheritance Taxable).|
|Week 24 Onwards||For Inheritance Taxable estates we would not distribute until receipt of the clearance certificate from the Capital Taxes Office. This affords the Executor/Administrator that the Revenue are satisfied that no further tax is payable.|
If the deceased was in receipt of any means tested benefits the DWP may investigate their entitlement. If this happens, we cannot distribute the estate until the investigation is complete; this can take anything between a couple of months and 6 months from the date of the probate.
However, please note that the law assumes that the administration will take one year. We will of course endeavour to carry out the administration in the shortest possible time. However, you will appreciate that some aspects of the administration involve dealing with public offices and financial institutions and we therefore, do not have full control over the timescale. We would be in touch with you over various matters during the course of the administration but in any event, we aim to report to your regularly.
The above information is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be a binding quote, as we are unable to account for each and every scenario which we may deal with, however, at your initial appointment, you will be advised of any factors which may affect our usual charging structure.
For example, we are not always able to pre-empt unusual complexities or that a client may not follow our advice. When an unforeseen complexity arises or where the way in which a client asks us to proceed means additional work, we will inform you of this and will provide revised costs information.
Factors that could increase overall costs
The usual factors which can affect our general charges are (this list is not exhaustive): –
- Inheritance taxable estates where full Inland Revenue Forms are required and Inheritance tax has to be paid.
- Where the Will or the Intestacy Rules are contested by a disappointed beneficiary.
- Where assets are located abroad which, are then themselves subject to foreign probate requirements.
- Where the estate comprises of agricultural property or a business and the subsequent claim for Agricultural Property Relief and or Business Property Relief is necessary to mitigate the payment of Inheritance Tax.
- The estate consists of share holdings (stocks and bonds).
- Estates dealing with missing beneficiaries or foreign beneficiaries.
- Finalisation of deceased income tax affairs to include submission of an SA900.
- Weekly house inspection for estate property, as required by insurers and the taking of meter readings for the utilities during the period of administration.
- Dealing with charitable beneficiary’s enquiries, as required during the administration period.
- Dealing with DWP enquiries where the deceased was in receipt of any means tested benefits, the DWP may investigate their entitlement.
We will also charge you for the incidental expenses we may incur in acting for you. These will include travelling expenses, search and registration fees, significant photocopying and fax services.
The usual disbursements are as follows: –
|Probate Court Fees||£273.00|
|Office copy of the probate||£1.50 per copy; usually need one copy for each asset to be dealt with|
|Land Registry Office copy fees||£6.00; for registered Property|
|Beneficiary Bankruptcy Search Fees||£2.00 per name, subject to the beneficiary being based in England and Wales. For beneficiaries living abroad, prices will be confirmed|
|Will Search||£105.00 plus VAT of £21.00; total £126.00|
|Inheritance Data Asset Search (if asset details are unknown then this is recommended)||£160.00 plus VAT; totoal£182.00|
|Statutory Notices in the London Gazette and Local Newspaper||£250.00 plus VAT of £50 approximately. Costs will vary and an individual costing will be obtained for approval before proceeding|
These protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors and claims.
If we need to instruct other professional advisors, you will be responsible for paying their fees. We will notify you if this becomes necessary, and give you details of their fees.
Probate Department Solicitors
Our team has over 63 years of collective experience in delivering high quality work in all matters relating to Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and estate administration. The team has particular expertise in high value estates, inheritance tax matters and elderly client law. All members of the department have extensive experience in dealing with the drafting of simple and complex Wills; advising on the suitability of Trusts for inheritance tax planning purposes and asset protection planning; inheritance tax matters to include the claim for business property relief, agricultural property relief and the Residence Nil Rate Band (introduced in April 2017). Advising on and preparing Lasting Powers of Attorney and applications to the Court of Protection, for incapacitated clients.
We have four members of the team who may work on your matter. Regardless, of who works on your matter, they will be supervised by Alison Greatbanks, Partner and Head of Wills and Probate.
Alison Greatbanks – Solicitor/Partner
Alison is the head of our team and has over 20 years’ experience in private client work, specialising in Wills, Probate and Elderly Client law. Alison has been working in this area since she qualified and has helped thousands of families and individuals.
Alison qualified as a solicitor in 2002. She attended Sir John Moore’s University Liverpool where she gained a 2:1 in History and the attended the College of Law Chester where she completed the Post Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course Diploma. Alison completed her training contract with Hall Smith Whittingham LLP. She became a partner in 2014.
Alison has been a member of the Solicitors of the Elderly since 2007 and is particularly skilled at dealing with the elderly issues and dealing with those suffering from mental capacity issues. She also has experience of managing client’s financial affairs either as a Court appointed Deputy or client appointed Attorney.
Since qualification Alison, has also completed a number of professional development courses in probate and estate administration and the Solicitors for the Elderly accreditations In Older Client Care Practice (OCCP) and Older Client Law in Practice (OCCP).
Angela Lewis – Solicitor/Partner
Angela is a partner and solicitor with 19 years’ experience in private client work, initially as a para legal before qualifying as a solicitor in 2004. She specialises in wills, probate, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trusts and has been a member of the Society of Trusts & Estates Practitioners (STEP) since 2006.
Angela has vast experience of all aspects of private client work and in particular dealing with large complex estates, to include dealing with applications for claiming Agricultural Property Relief and Business Property Relief.
Angela initially started her career in a well-established Staffordshire firm before joining Hall Smith Whittingham LLP in 2007 and becoming a partner in 2014.
Angela also a level 3 British Sign Language qualification.
Hugh Lewis-Morgan – Solicitor
Hugh is a member of the Private Client Team and has over 20 years’ experience in this field, having previously practised in Civil and Criminal Litigation, Licensing and Matrimonial Law. Hugh specialises in Wills, Probate, Powers of Attorney and Elderly Client Law.
Hugh qualified as a solicitor in 1988 having gained a degree in Law and subsequently attended the College of Law in Guildford where he completed the then Solicitors Qualifying Examination. Hugh completed his training with Bates Wells and Braithwaite solicitors, a firm with offices in London and Suffolk.
Hugh has been a member of Solicitors for the Elderly since 2009 and in 2015 successfully completed the Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) accreditation in Older Client Care Practice (OCCP). Hugh gained Associate Membership of ACTAPS (Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Solicitors) in 2015.
Hugh has helped thousands of clients since qualifying and has developed a specialism in Older Client Law and Practice. In addition to this he has an extensive knowledge of the Law and Practice of Wills, Administration of Estates, Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection issues.