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  • Overview

    Specialist probate

    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. This is why we excel in offering sound and straight-forward probate advice to our clients. Dealing with someone's estate can vary enormously, so ensuring that you get the right type of support and probate advice is vital in making the process easier to manage. 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 the process with our team’s expert probate advice.

    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. 

    Probate video

    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 advice and 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 probate lawyer

    • 98% of our clients rated our service as ‘excellent’
    • We offer highly cost competitive legal services and probate advice, 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 and a highly experienced team of probate lawyers, meaning we can draw on our years of expertise to any situation to provide our clients with peace of mind
    • A team of 11 specialist probate 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 lawyer 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 £1,400 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. 

    Further information

    You can read our frequently asked questions on probate related legal matters here; Probate - FAQ

     

  • Related Client Stories

    Dealing with a lost or missing will

    In order to obtain a grant of probate, the deceased’s original will must be lodged at the Probate Registry alongside the probate application. There are occasions when the original will is not available which adds an additional layer of complexity.

    Property and tax issues if you die without a will

    Mr X died in 2016.  At his death, he and his wife owned a number of properties (both residential and commercial), some of which were in his sole name and others of which were in joint names.  Mr and Mrs X had an son and one of the properties was co-owned by Mr X and the son.  Mr X also owned a number of other bank accounts and investments as well.  The total value of his estate was around £4 million.

    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

    Answering key questions about the probate process during the coronavirus pandemic

    The probate process can be difficult and emotional at the best of times. With the country on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, many are increasingly concerned about how to proceed with the matters arising following a death.  

    The Digital Age? Electronic signatures and valid execution of documents

    The introduction of social distancing measures following the outbreak of Covid-19 has seen the majority of the UK workforce shift to working from home.

    The Probate process during lockdown: Your questions answered

    Here for you – during COVID-19

    COVID-19: Changes to who, where and how deaths can be registered

    Thomson Snell & Passmore further strengthens Probate offering with two new hires

    Leading South East law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore has welcomed two new members to its Probate department, bolstering its offering and making it one of the largest Probate practices in the South East. 

    Probate goes digital

    The HM Courts & Tribunals Service recently launched an online probate service for legal professionals representing executors. Thomson Snell & Passmore’s probate team has been an early adopter of this new offering.  

    What happens if you die without a will?

    According to a recent survey, 68% of UK adults do not have a will. When someone dies without a will they are considered as passing away intestate.  Contrary to what many believe, in these circumstances an estate cannot just be divided how the family wishes or how the family feels the deceased would have wanted – instead the intestacy rules apply.

    Why probate is only the first step in managing someone’s estate

    When someone dies it can be a difficult time for family or friends who are left to deal with the deceased’s estate. At Thomson Snell & Passmore we aim to help the bereaved due to our joined up and client centric approach.

    Probate Delays – are we nearing the end?

    Thomson Snell & Passmore welcomes HM Courts and Tribunal Service’s update that the backlog of grant applications is beginning to fall and they expect to resume normal service ‘very shortly’.

    Increase in Probate Fees amounting to a “tax on grief” no longer being pursued by Government

    Justice secretary, Robert Buckland QC has said the proposed increase in probate fees will no longer be pursued.

    A costly reminder: The importance of ADR

    An almost century-old law has been used in an interesting inheritance case, in which the court had to decide which spouse of an elderly couple died first.

    Change to probate fees - what next?

    The motion to approve the Non-Contentious Probate (Fees) Order had been due to be voted on in the House of Commons for some time.

    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.

  • Insights

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 & .

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.

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
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