Non-Contentious Probate services and Fees
How much will probate cost?
We provide a full non-contentious probate service to our clients. This can include acting as an executor, extracting probate, managing the estate and dealing with HM Revenue and Customs as necessary.
The probate services we provide include a wide range of services and so providing an exact quote can be difficult.
Below we provide estimates of our costs for non-contentious probate. In order to speed up the probate process we also include some tips on how to keep the costs of obtaining a Grant of Probate down so you can distribute the estate of your loved ones as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Basic extraction of probate
We will prepare the relevant forms for submission to The Probate Registry and obtain a Grant of Probate for the Executors. This will include meeting with the Executors, drafting the relevant forms and submitting these forms with the Probate Registry, and HM Revenue and Customs where necessary.
Fees for this service start from £3,000 plus VAT which may increase if we are required to spend additional time collecting information from third parties about the estate. We will only ask for additional information where this is required for the forms to be submitted to The Probate Registry and HM Revenue and Customs as necessary.
An estate falling into this category would likely include the following assets:-
- A main residence
- Bank accounts (joint or solely owned)
- ISA investments
- Investments managed by a broker
Advanced extraction of probate
As above, we will prepare the relevant Inheritance Tax forms and submit these to The Probate Registry and HM Revenue and Customs.
With larger, more complex estates fees start at around £7,000 plus VAT.
An estate falling within an “Advanced” estate would likely include some or all of the following assets:-
- Main residence
- Investment property
- Bank accounts (jointly or solely owned)
- ISA investments
- Investments in a business / farm
- Investments managed by a broker
- Personally held investments
These estates are understandably more complex and will take time to prepare.
What extra costs are involved?
We charge on an hourly rate, whereas the charges of many other providers of non-contentious probate services are based on a percentage of the value of the estate. This can for example, lead to a disproportionate charge on, say, large but fairly straightforward estates.
More complex estates naturally take more time to analyse and distribute which leads to higher costs. By charging on an hourly basis the complexity of the case is reflected in the fee charged. We discuss how our time and costs can be minimised below.
Our fees for work (hourly) are as follows:
- Partner £300
- Manager £200
- Administration £100
The work is always distributed to the most appropriate member of staff to keep any costs to the estate as small as possible.
How long will this process take?
The extraction of probate can take several months. This is dependent on the size of the estate, the speed at which we obtain information regarding the estate and how quickly queries are answered.
For smaller “excepted” estates the time taken to extract probate is generally two to three months.
For larger estates where Inheritance Tax is due, the process can take longer because HM Revenue and Customs process Inheritance Tax Returns before the Probate Registry can begin their work. Only once HM Revenue and Customs are satisfied with the Inheritance Tax position can the Probate Registry issue the Grant of Probate.
What are the key stages in the process?
For all estates there are a number of key stages which have Executors need to go through:
- Initial meeting. We will meet with you to discuss the size of the estate and obtain details of any assets, liabilities, income and expenses of the estate
- We will issue an engagement letter confirming the terms of our engagement and the services we will provide. We will also provide you with an estimate of our fees for those services, taking into account the factors noted above dealing with the complexity of the estate
- An important part of the process includes the provision of the original Will and any codicils which may be associated with the Will
- Once we have identified the contents of the estate we will write to all the individuals / organisations affected, asking for documentation supporting the asset / liability values at the date of death
- Using this information we will prepare the Inheritance Tax forms required
- Once the Inheritance Tax forms have been prepared they need to be approved and signed by the executors to the estate
- From this point one of two things will happen:
- Where Inheritance Tax is payable payment will need to be sent to HM Revenue and Customs at the same time as the Inheritance Tax Returns
- If no Inheritance Tax is due or where Inheritance Tax has been paid the forms can be submitted to the Probate Registry using their online portal
- After acceptance from the Probate Registry we will receive the Grant of Probate, including any copies which may have been requested. These will be required by the Executors to enable them to distribute assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will.
We will keep you updated at each stage in the process and will inform you as soon as we obtain the Grant of Probate from the Probate Registry.
How can I keep costs to a minimum?
As noted above, charging on an hourly basis means costs will be kept low if we have ready access to the information required to prepare the probate forms. Below are a number of areas which will help minimise our time spent working on your estate and reduce the overall cost for extracting probate:
- Providing all information relevant to the estate promptly
- Responding to queries quickly
- Keeping us informed of any developments with the estate as soon as they happen (for example valuation of property)
What other services do we provide?
As well as the simple extraction of probate we can provide many other services with reference to your loved ones’ estate.
The basis of charging for these services will be on a time basis, as above. The differing complexity of these services mean it is difficult to provide an estimate of their cost, but we will provide a quotation on a case by case basis after review of the exact work to be carried out.
Some services which we will be happy to provide in this manner include:
- Executor services
- Safe storage of Wills
- Estate accounts
- Trust returns
- Tax returns for the deceased
- Distribution of the estate
If you want us to provide a quote for any work in connection with Probate or Estate management, please contact the office at and we will be in touch.
Who will be dealing with my case?
We have two staff members who are involved with the probate work we carry out. Janice Hayward is a qualified Chartered Accountant who has been authorised in the field of probate services since its inception for Chartered Accountants in 2015.
John Preston is also a Chartered Accountant and has been working alongside Janice and has recently passed his Probate certification course and will be applying for authorised status.
Where to direct any complaints
Villars Hayward LLP is an ICAEW accredited firm providing non-contentious probate services. We are regulated by the ICAEW who are an approved regulatory body for probate services. We follow the recommended guidance and procedures in respect of complaints and are covered by the ICAEW compensation scheme as set out below.
If you are dissatisfied with the service we provide, our formal complaints procedure directs you to our senior partner, Janice Hayward. We request any complaint be submitted to us by letter. We take all complaints very seriously and will consider carefully any complaint you may make about our services as soon as it is received. We will take all action required to resolve the issue.
Any complaints received will be acknowledged within five business days of its receipt and will endeavour to deal with it within eight weeks. If we do not deal with it in this timescale or you are unhappy with our response you may of course take the matter up with our professional body the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (see https://www.icaew.com/regulation/complaints-process/make-a-complaint) and the Legal Ombudsman.
Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman should be made within six years of the act of omission or within three years of you becoming aware of the issue and in either case within six months of our written response to your complaint to us.
The contact details for the Legal Ombudsman are:
Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 15870, Birmingham B30 9EB
In the unlikely event that we cannot meet our liabilities to you, you may be able to seek a grant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales’ compensation scheme. Generally, applications for a grant must be made to ICAEW within twelve months or the time you become aware, or reasonably ought to have been aware of the loss. Further information about the scheme and the circumstances in which grants may be made is available on ICAEW’s website: www.icaew.com/probate