Services : Wills, Trust & Probate

Overview

Our specialist lawyers, who are also members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) are able to provide a highly efficient and comprehensive service. We work with a broad range of clients, including professional and individual trustees, executors and administrators and beneficiaries (both individuals and charities). The administration of Estates and Trusts, frequently with assets running into many millions of pounds and including those involving family businesses, farms and investment portfolios, is routinely undertaken in the United Kingdom and in the United States; we also work closely with local lawyers in other jurisdictions to provide a comprehensive service to our clients.

We are one of the few firms in the South West region able to offer first class support and advice where there is a need to resolve issues in a contested estate or disputed trust, combining our detailed knowledge of succession law, equitable principles litigation and negotiation skills.

Work encompasses:

  • Will drafting
  • Tax planning – encompassing agricultural and business property
  • Probate and succession – to include intestacy
  • Creating, administering, restructuring and terminating trusts
  • Guidance on the duties, rights and obligations of trustees, executors and beneficiaries
  • Post death tax planning strategies
  • Lasting Powers of Attorney – both for Property and Affairs and Personal Welfare
  • Incapacity/Court of Protection
  • Co-habitation and pre-nuptial agreements
  • Cross border issues with particular reference to the USA

Key Contacts:

Francis Montagu: francis.montagu@bennettlaw.co.uk

Kay Dawson: kay.dawson@bennettlaw.co.uk

Our Charges

The Solicitors Regulation Authority recently required all law firms to provide some guidance on our website about the firm’s charges when acting for executors and administrators who wish to instruct a solicitor to advise and assist them in relation to the administration of a deceased’s estate.

In keeping with most law firms which specialise in this area of work, we do not offer a fixed fee agreement for acting for executors. We will charge on an hourly rate basis but by reference to estimates that we will agree with you at the outset of our being instructed. Our charges will depend on numerous factors to include: the complexity of the estate, the value of the estate, the number of beneficiaries and whether or not the estate is subject to Inheritance Tax.

At the outset of our instructions we shall provide you with details of the hourly rates charged by our specialist lawyers, which we believe to be competitive to firms with equivalent expertise. We will provide tailored costs estimates when we are in a position to properly understand the work which will be required. We will review costs on an interim basis and provide updated or revised costs estimates as and when the nature of the case requires it.

Applying for the grant, collecting and distributing the assets

We anticipate this will take between 10 and 400 hours work at £185 per hour. However, this is an estimated time frame and some estates may take longer depending upon the variables of the estate as explained above.

Our total charges are estimated at between £2,000 to £75,000 plus VAT plus disbursements.

Our exact charges will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter as set out below. If however there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, our charges will be at the higher end.

We will handle the full process for you. Our charges are likely to be less where:

  • There is a valid will
  • There is no more than one property
  • There are no more than 6 bank or building society accounts
  • There are no other intangible assets
  • There are 1 to 4 beneficiaries
  • There are no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets. If disputes arise this is likely to lead to an increase in our charges
  • There is no inheritance tax payable and the executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC
  • There are no claims made against the estate

    Disbursements

    Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees and counsel’s fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. Payment of the disbursements is settled from the estate.

    Usually, you can expect to pay the following disbursements:

  • Probate Application fee of £155
  • Swearing of the oath fee of £7 (per executor)
  • Bankruptcy only Land Charges Department searches fee of £2 (per beneficiary)
  • Fee for the Notice of Death in The London Gazette and another local newspaper of between £200 to £220

    Potential additional costs

    If there is no will or the estate consists of any share holdings (stocks and bonds) there are likely to be additional costs and charges that could range significantly depending on the estate and how it is to be dealt with. We can give you a more accurate quote once we have more information.

    If any additional copies of the grant are required, they cost 50p per copy (1 copy per asset usually).

    Dealing with the sale or transfer of any property in the estate will be dealt with by the firm’s Conveyancing Department and charged separately. Our conveyancing charges are not included in the probate charges.

    How long will my matter take?

    On average, estates are usually dealt with within 6 to 12 months. However, some estates may take longer depending upon the variables of the estate as explained above. Typically, obtaining the grant of probate takes between 4 to 12 weeks. Collecting assets then follows, which can take between 2 to 4 weeks. Once this has been done and all other work in the estate has been finalised, we can then distribute the assets, which normally takes between 2 to 4 weeks. However, these are only estimated time frames and will be subject to the variables of the estate as explained above.

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