Specialist probate lawyers
Our expert probate and contentious probate lawyers specialise in wills and trusts. We understand what it means to lose someone and the support and sensitivity which is needed when it comes to the probate process. 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.
If you are dealing with probate you will need to assess the intricacy of the estate, your role in administering it and the type of support you need. We have helped generations of executors understand and navigate.
Working closely with our Tax Planning, Trusts, Residential Conveyancing, Agricultural and Owner Managed Business teams, we have the depth and breadth of experience to advise on every aspect of probate and beyond.
We deliver the technical expertise so that you can have peace of mind.
Click on the box above to view our probate video.
We have specific experience and expertise in:
- Business and agricultural property relief
- Multi-jurisdictional estates
- Landed estates
- Heritage assets and reliefs, conditional exemption and offers in lieu of tax
- Unusual asset types and holding structures
- Non-domiciled estates
- Post-death variations
- Intestacy: 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
- Independent administrator service: for estates in dispute
- Inheritance, will and trust disputes.
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.
Details on costs and timings for the options above are detailed further down this page.
Why choose Thomson Snell & Passmore as your lawyer
- 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
- We have the depth and breadth of experience and expertise to deal with all types of wills and estates, no matter how complex
- We are a full service law firm with accredited and industry recognised lawyers, we can draw on our years of expertise to any situation to provide our clients with peace of mind
- A team of 11 specialist lawyers means your matter will be dealt with efficiently and there will always be a member of the team available to help.
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.
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.
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 £1,400 excluding VAT + the probate court fee of £155.00 plus £1.50 per 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 £2,900 excluding VAT + the probate court fee of £155.00 plus £1.50 per copy.
- Taxable estate - Our normal charge for obtaining a Grant in a taxable estate requiring an IHT400 is £3,900 excluding VAT + the probate court fee of £155.00 plus £1.50 per 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 2% to 2.5% 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 £1.50 for each copy of the grant
- 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. The first step is to obtain the grant of probate, which confirms that you, as the executor, have the required authority that allows you to handle the assets of the person who is deceased. 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.
You can read our frequently asked questions on probate related legal matters here; Probate - FAQ