Probate solicitors fees
Probate is the process of obtaining the official approval of a last will and testament. Probate solicitors help in the administration of your will when you die. Its a detailed process and solicitors charges can be substantial.
You can avoid the probate fees that solicitors charge by gaining probate yourself. However many people find bereavement a stressful time, and some would rather not learn the intricacies of administering the estate when they are feeling the loss of someone close to them. Most choose to employ a probate solicitor or other professional.
A solicitor may be named in the will as an executor – in which case, they will generally administer the estate and the cost of probate will be charged according to their scale at the time.
The executor’s job is to gather in all your assets, and after paying off any debts, they obtain a ‘Grant of Probate’ on your estate. Finally they pay out the money from the estate according to the Will’s instructions.
What are the average probate fees?
Banks charge consistantly higher fees than solicitors fees – and, in turn these are often undercut by will-writers. To confuse matters, some charge a percentage of an estate’s value, others charge for work done by the item or hour, and many charge for both.
Bank’s fees for probate can generally work out at between 4% and 5%, so are generally not good value.
Solicitor’s Probate fees are usually based on guidance from the Law Society which sets an initial fee of 0.75% of the value of the property, plus 1.5% of the value of other assets, and other charges on top of that. After totalling up all the costs, a large estate may work out closer to 2% – that’s £10,000 on an estate of £1/2 million, while smaller estates could amount to a larger proportion. Average fees for probate work hover around £5,000. But even for smaller estates, the probate fees don’t often to go below £2,000 – £3,000. Specialist firms such as Will-Drafters Ltd make their livelihoods by consistently under-cutting solicitors quotes.
While these figures provide a guide, it is important to ask around and get prices. Lawyers can charge from £100 per hour to £250 per hour or more for probate work, depending on the seniority of the person on your case. If a simple estate took 10 hours it would be much cheaper than a more complex will taking 20 hours’ work – and a solicitor would have to quote depending on your circumstances. What’s more, solicitors’ probate fees in London can be prohibitively high. Its certainly worth shopping round and checking out specialist firms such as Will-Drafters Ltd.
The big variables in the level of fees are when a will gives rise to a particular issue or where there is a mistake or an omission. The will might be contested by disgruntled family members who feel they have a right to a share in the estate.
Sometimes beneficiaries cannot be traced – or assets cannot be found. If there is no will to be found, the deceased is regaded as dying ‘intestate’, and the Govenment’s rules on intestacy come into play. This too, can increase the costs.
How do you save on a probate solicitor’s fees?
First, get a fixed quote after your first meeting. Prepare well for any face to face meetings and have as much information and details to hand. Remember that letters take time, so ensure that correspondence is kept only to that which is essential. If you want, you can do some of the work yourself rather than leaving everything to the solicitor.
Lastly, if you are having your will drawn up, there is no need to pre-pay for probate services at that point. Some will-making companies have been criticised for charging large sums in advance for services that may not turn out to be as useful as their advertising claims.