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Get In Touch

By submitting an enquiry through 'get in touch' your data will only be used to contact you regarding your enquiry. If you would like to receive newsletters from Thomson Snell & Passmore please use the separate form below.

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  • Overview

    Specialist probate lawyers

    Our probate lawyers and solicitors specialise in wills and trusts. We understand what it means to lose someone and the support and sensitivity which is needed. Dealing with someone's estate can vary enormously. It depends on the complexity of the will and estate and how much work you want to do or have time to do yourself. 

    We have helped generations of executors, personal representatives and administrators. Whether you are facing probate with no will or contentious probate, we know how to deal with every scenario. To help you better understand what is involved we have created a step by step Bereavement Guide. We have also prepared a video to help clarify the legal and financial processes that have to be dealt with and how we can support you. If you’d like to speak to someone, please use our Get in Touch form, or find a probate specialist near you.

    Probate video

    Click on the box above to view our probate video. 

    Why choose Thomson Snell & Passmore

    • 98% of our clients rated our service as ‘excellent’
    • We offer highly cost competitive legal services including fixed fees for our grant only services  and no hidden extras
    • We can offer a free initial consultation by telephone
    • We offer free storage of your will
    • We make it easy for you to contact us and you will have a dedicated lawyer’s direct dial and email address 
    • We ensure that you always know how your matter is progressing
    • We are committed to full transparency and providing our clients with a range of services and pricing options to suit their needs. 


    Understanding the role of an executor of a will or personal representative

    The role of the executor or personal representative (PR) is to distribute the deceased person’s estate according to their wishes, as stated in their will or if there is no will in accordance with the intestacy rules.

    The role can be a difficult responsibility and leave you open to personal liability, but our expert probate lawyers can help you manage the risks involved.

    Choosing the right probate service for you – four options to suit your needs

    • Full estate administration: we will deal with each aspect of the probate process, so you are not burdened with the responsibility
    • Executor support service: you choose which parts of the process you want to carry out yourself and which parts you would like us to do
    • Grant-only service: we apply for the Grant of Representation on your behalf, enabling you to do the rest of the work yourself.  For more information, please see our infographic on the three main types of Grant
    • Independent administration: a service for estates that are in dispute and require an independent administrator to be appointed to deal with the estate administration up to the point of distribution.


    If you would like one of us to discuss your needs and the options please complete this short probate questionnaire and we will contact you. Alternatively, you can contact our probate lawyers on 01892 510000 (Tunbridge Wells) / 01322 623700 (Thames Gateway) or online using the get in touch form on this page.

    Resolving probate complications 

    Having support from a probate lawyer takes away stress at a difficult time. We can help you with issues such as:

    • What to do when someone dies without making a will (intestate): we advise you of the steps you need to take and the rules about entitlements
    • Inheritance Act claims: expert advice and assistance when a claim is threatened or proceedings are issued
    • Probate disputes: we help you through the process and find the best solution.


    How much does it cost?

    Probate solicitors fees vary according to the level of service you need. We will always give you clear guidance on the fees at each step of the process so that you are clear about what it will cost. To help control fees, we ensure that the right person handles your matter and we always discuss this at the outset.

    Grant-only services 

    These are provided on a fixed fee basis and will involve us in drafting the probate papers from the information that we receive from you. The fixed fee excludes any investigative work by us which we will be pleased to assist with and we will agree the costs of any additional work with you should you require our help.  

    • Excepted estates  – our normal charge for obtaining a Grant and completing an IHT205 is £1,300 excluding VAT + the probate court fee of £155.00 plus 0.50p per sealed copy. An additional fixed fee of £250 + VAT is chargeable where a transferable nil rate band is claimed.
    • Non-taxable estate  - Our normal charge for obtaining a Grant in a non-excepted estate where no Inheritance Tax (IHT) is payable and an IHT400 is required is £2,800 excluding VAT + the probate court fee of £155.00 plus 0.50p per sealed copy.
    • Taxable estate - Our normal charge for obtaining a Grant in a taxable estate requiring an IHT400 is £3,800 excluding VAT + the probate court fee of £155.00 plus 0.50p per sealed copy. 

    The fixed fees assume that the personal representatives are able to provide full information in the Grant-only probate questionnaire together with all relevant documentation referred to in the above links, and that there is no requirement to undertake further investigation of the deceased’s estate.

    In some cases, the replies given in the questionnaire may necessitate investigative work for which an additional charge will be made and we will confirm what our costs will be for any additional work.

    How long does it take? 

    For an excepted estate using our grant only service, once we have been given all of the information the time period to extract the grant is about 4-6 weeks.

    For taxable and non taxable estates once we have been given all of the information the time period to extract the grant is about 7 – 10 weeks. These time periods are not precise because we are reliant on third parties (for example to settle inheritance tax) but are an illustration of duration. 

    Full estate administration

    Probate costs depend on the complexity of the estate. In our experience, we find that typically the fee equates to 1.75% to 2% excluding VAT of the gross estate.

    The exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances. For example, if there is one beneficiary and no property, costs will be at the lower end of the range and possibly even less than the typical fee. If there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, costs will be at the higher end. In some cases our fees may be higher due to the nature of the assets to be dealt with or negotiated with HMRC or because of the relationship between family members. We will handle the full process for you.

    If you find yourself dealing with an estate whose value you are unable easily to quantify and identify possible issues, please do call us and we can agree a scope of work with a fixed budget until estate matters become clear, at which point we can estimate costs for you. 

    Before we begin each stage of the process, we will give you clarity on costs, explaining what work will be covered. This fee example is for estates where:

    • There is a valid will
    • There is only one property
    • There are only 3 bank or building society accounts
    • There are only 5 investments
    • There are no other intangible assets
    • There are up to 4 beneficiaries
    • There are no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets
    • There are no enquiries by HMRC into the Inheritance Tax Account
    • There are no trusts under the will
    • There are no claims made against the estate
    • There are no tax planning exercises to be carried out in terms of the disposal of assets. 


    For more information, have a look at our Probate process infographic.


    Additional fees and disbursements

    Disbursements are expenses of your matter that are payable to third parties, like those listed below. Not all may be applicable. 

    • Probate Registry fee – currently £155 plus 50p for each sealed copy of the grant. Fees are expected to rise in April 2019
    • Unclaimed Asset Register search fees - £25 
    • Statutory Advertisements – in the region of £250 - protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors. 


    How long does it take to administer an estate?

    On average, estates can take up to 12 – 14 months, depending on whether there are any enquiries into the Inheritance Tax Account and assuming third parties provide relevant clearances. Typically, obtaining the grant of probate can takes up to 3 months from when we are instructed; collecting assets then follows and can take 3 – 6 weeks, if straightforward.  If there is a property to be sold, it will take as long as it takes to find a purchaser and the conveyancing transaction to complete. Revenue clearances then have to be obtained which may take several months, after which the estate can be distributed. The distribution is dependent on advice concerning the Inheritance Act claims time limit which might alter the date upon which the executors can distribute the estate.

    A full list of what is included as part of our full administration service can be found here: Probate summary of work.

    IHT enquiries and disputes are outside our scope of being able to estimate costs and these areas will increase costs and lengthen the time that it takes to complete the estate administration. 
    We can offer additional services, such as after death tax planning e.g. deeds or variations, planning estate disposals for CGT purposes, conveyancing for the estate property, advice on trusts contained within wills including trust management and also wills for the beneficiaries.

    Who will work on my estate?

    All work is supervised by the Head of Department or a senior fully qualified member of the team who also has supervisory authority. If you instruct us we will advise you as soon as possible who will be working on your matter and who the supervisor is. 
    See the bottom of the page for details of the team who may work on your matter. 

    Further information

    If you have any further questions about the probate process, please see our page: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s).

             

  • Related Client Stories

    Inheritance tax and the pension transfer window

    When a member has passed away, trustees and pension scheme administrators can usually exercise discretion over the distribution of death benefits due from a pension scheme.  More often than not when a trustee has exercised this discretion, the benefits fall outside of the estate for Inheritance Tax (IHT) purposes. 

    Multiple Death Intestacy

    An entire family, including children died in a tragic accident.  None of the family had a Will and we were asked to obtain Grants of Letters of Administration.

    Business Property Relief – surplus cash in business

    This case study illustrates that it is possible to rebut an argument from HMRC that large cash reserves held in a business should not benefit from Business Property Relief (BPR).

    Polish domicile with UK assets

    We acted for the widower of a young Polish woman who had been working in England for the last few years of her life. It was thought that she had retained her domicile of origin in Poland and the couple had very much left open the possibility of returning to Poland in the future.

    Inheritance tax avoidance

    This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Wills, Trusts & Tax Planning team who have recently advised a client on deeds of variation, inheritance tax and discretionary trusts.

    Farming estates & inheritance tax

    This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Wills, Trusts & Tax Planning team who have recently settled a farming case, saving a potential IHT liability of over £500,000.

  • Latest Updates

    Probate: frequently asked questions

    Dealing with probate can be extremely stressful, particularly if the estate of the deceased is not straightforward. Our specialist lawyers are experienced in all aspects of probate matters and can support you as much, or as little, as you like.

    Tough new probate fees give families a headache

    Dubbed a “stealth tax” by critics, probate costs will increase under controversial plans to introduce a new sliding scale of fees.

    Thomson Snell & Passmore is recognised as one of the UK’s Top Law Firms

    Thomson Snell & Passmore has been named as one of the Top Law Firms for its private wealth practice for the fifth consecutive year.

    Is the proposed probate fee increase a done deal?

    Probate fees are set to go up from April, with charges ranging from £250, for estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000, and up to £6,000 for estates valued at £2 million or over.

    Welcome to Helen Maddison-White

    A warm welcome to Helen who has recently joined us from Coole Bevis. Helen is an associate in our expanding, specialist probate team

    Probate fee hike: Potential implications on individuals and families

    Despite an overwhelming objection to proposals for a fee increase through a consultation paper in 2017, the Government pushed ahead with its progressive fee scale proposals

    Probate fees set to rise in Government’s controversial plans

    The Government has recently announced that probate court fees are set to rise to fund the Courts and Tribunals Services for the purpose of ensuring justice is done and to protect victims and vulnerable people.  

    Protecting your digital assets

    There is an increasing amount of debate around what you should do to protect your online assets. Failure to recognise digital assets in estate planning can lead to loss of value for intended beneficiaries and may create unnecessary difficulties for your family or executors.  

    £6,000 probate fee is ‘stealth death tax’ But the new charge can be beaten with careful planning

    The Government is pushing ahead with controversial plans to dramatically raise the fees paid by families when they wind up the estate of a loved one.

    I have been told I am named as an executor in a will - what do I need to do now?

    The role of an executor does not come into play until the person who made the will, known as the testator, passes away.

    The Residence Nil Rate Band

    The Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) has now been in force for a year and applies to estates where the deceased died on or after 6 April 2017. Where the deceased owned or, in some cases, had an interest in, a residence the RNRB makes available an additional tax free amount if the residence is inherited by someone closely related to the deceased.

    Making use of the Residence Nil Rate Band

    The Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) has been recently introduced and is only able to be claimed on estates where the deceased has died on or after 6 April 2017. The RNRB increases the amount which can pass free of Inheritance Tax on the death.

    Independent administrator service

    Independent administration is a service solicitors and families can use when there are recalcitrant executors, intractable differences of opinion or contested wills combined with a need to protect an element or the whole of a deceased’s estate.

    Law Commission’s consultation on the law of wills

    Thomson Snell & Passmore has responded to the Law Commission’s consultation on the law of wills.

    Industry call for clarity on digital legacies

    New powers over what happens to digital legacies upon death have been called for by solicitors and legal academics

    Election kills probate 'stealth tax'

    Nicola Plant, Partner and Head of Private Client speaks to The Law Society Gazette about the government's decision to scrap probate fee increases.

    Financial penalties against personal representatives

    Personal representatives are expected to make full enquiries regarding lifetime gifts made by the deceased, as well as the assets in the estate.  Failure to do this could result in a penalty being imposed by HM Revenue & Customs.  Helen Stewart, Partner and Head of Probate, considers a recent case and provides some tips for avoiding penalties.

    The legal week in 60 seconds

    The Solicitors Journal reports on Thomson Snell & Passmore's recent significant promotions within the firm.

    Top 25 UK Law Firm

    We are pleased to receive, for another year, the accolade from eprivateclient of being listed as one of the Top 25 Law Firms in the UK.

    Spotlight on probate

    Probate is a subject that is increasingly grabbing the headlines not least because disputes are increasing, particularly in relation to who inherits and how much they inherit from a testator’s estate.

    Are you aware of your digital assets?

    For most of us, and increasingly irrespective of age, the digital world has crept into our lives. Whether we manage our bank accounts or investments online, store our photographs in the cloud or manage our social lives through Facebook, our digital footprints are becoming deeper and deeper.

    FAQ: Dispute Resolution

    Q.  I have been cut out of my parents Will, what can I do?

  • Insights

Get In Touch

By submitting an enquiry through 'get in touch' your data will only be used to contact you regarding your enquiry. If you would like to receive newsletters from Thomson Snell & Passmore please use the separate form below.

Newsletter Sign Up

I would like to receive newsletters, event invitations and publications from Thomson Snell & Passmore by email on the following topics (tick all those that apply) and consent for my data to be processed for this purpose.

We respect your privacy and want news to be relevant. To either, click here or update your preferences by emailing us at info@ts-p.co.uk. Your personal data shall be treated in accordance with our & .

I was satisfied with the efficiency and warmth of the service Kirsty provided.

Client

I cannot speak too highly of the care, attention and sympathy that I have received.

Client

The whole process was made very simple.

Client

Very sympathetic and understanding during a very difficult period of my life.

Client

Initial contact was made at a time of great stress and I was glad to 'hand over' some of my concerns to TS&P. Their expertise and consideration has been a comfort in a time of continual stress. Thank you.”

Client

Helpful, committed and responsive, who do a great job and treat their clients well.

Chambers UK

Sue, thank you for the hard work you have put into concluding mum's estate.  Thomson Snell & Passmore had been my parent's solicitors for decard. You served them well!

Client

Sue, we as a family sincerely appreciate your strong efforts, together with all of your Team, to assist us through this very trying process and must say a big Thank you.  Personally I am exhausted yet realise that I could not have achieved a final result without your professional and caring support.

Client

Efficient, effective, friendly and helpful.

Client

Sue Lambert assisted me greatly and kept me informed through the entire process.

Client

Sarah responded quickly and offered me sensible solution, and covered all the loop holes.

Client

Everyone has been extremely supportive throughout all the stages.

Client

As well as being highly efficient, great sensitivity has been evident during very emotional times.

Client

Meet The Team

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