Fees applicable for Probate and Conveyancing work
In our initial letter to you we will set out:
- The terms of the retainer and details of the person who will look after your matter
- What steps we intend to take next
- Our estimate of the costs for dealing with the matter as well as any disbursements (money we pay out on your behalf)
- Any requirement for an advance payment on account of costs
These terms will form part of your contract with us unless the fee earner agrees with you in writing any changes that will apply.
In acting on your behalf Curtis Legal Limited aim to achieve the highest possible levels of service; we are accredited with Lexcel which is the quality standard mark given by the Law Society in recognition of our high service standards. In particular we aim to ensure that:
- All requests for returned telephone calls are dealt with on the same day or as soon as possible thereafter (as may be agreed or requested);
- Your letters have a substantive reply within seven working days;
- We will always act in your best interests;
- Should you need to see one of us personally then we can make a mutually convenient appointment at our offices.
- Should you not be able to attend our offices or are unable to attend then we can arrange to see you at your home.
- If you would prefer to see one of us in an office environment and are suffering with a disability then we can arrange to see you at a neighbouring office which has disabled access and disabled facilities.
Costs Information – Fixed Fees
Most work is undertaken on the basis of a fixed fee which will be agreed with you at the outset of the case. However, sometimes work is undertaken which was not anticipated at the start, or problems arise that were not expected when we originally agreed the fee. In such cases, the extra work may be charged on a time and work basis but we will advise you when an additional charge may be made. Examples of where additional charges may arise would be:-
- In conveyancing where problems arise with the lease or in establishing information
- In Probate cases where a Will is challenged by one of the beneficiaries
- In Will preparation where separate meetings are needed with family members or financial advisers or specialist tax advice is needed
Unless a fixed fee is agreed (and there is no additional work element) our costs are based on a fair and reasonable sum for the work and responsibility undertaken. Mainly this is by reference to the time spent working on the file and the seniority of the person working, the number of letters or emails written, or telephone calls made or received. Time may be spent in many ways, for instance in attending upon you, drafting any necessary documents or forms or considering the same, travel and considering what action may be needed from time to time during the conduct of the matter.
Our fees are calculated for each hour engaged on your matter. Routine letter and telephone calls will be charged as units of one tenth of an hour. Other, non-routine, letters and telephone calls will be charged on a time basis. The hourly rates unless advised otherwise are as follows:
Solicitors with over eight years experience – Category A – £200 per hour
Other solicitors or legal executives with over four years experience – Category B – £175 per hour
Other qualified solicitors or legal executives – Category C – £145 per hour
Trainee solicitors and other staff of equivalent experience – Category D – £110 per hour
The Fee Earner handling your case will give an idea of what the total fees may be, and if requested, may set a cap on these fees before carrying out further work. Unless varied in the Client Care letter these rates will form the basis on which charges will be made. When a bill is presented you will have a right to object and seek an assessment under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.
The work that we typically have to carry out when dealing with an estate will include applying for the grant, collecting and distributing the assets
We anticipate this can take between 5 and 100 hours work at £200 per hour depending upon the complexity of the estate. The total costs could theoretically be between £1000 and £20,000 where there is a very complex estate.
The exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter. For example, if there is one beneficiary and no property, costs will be at the lower end of the range. If there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, costs will be at the higher end.
We will handle the full process for you. As an example quote for an estate where:
- There is a valid will
- There is no more than one property
- There are no more than 2 bank or building society accounts
- There are no other intangible assets
- There are no more than 2 beneficiaries
- There are no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets. If disputes arise this is likely to lead to an increase in costs
- 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
We would anticipate that the work involved would be no more than 15 hours and the total cost would not exceed £3,000 plus vat. As we have explained however each client is unique and each case is different and a fixed fee will be agreed prior to any work being undertaken.
Disbursements included in addition to this fee:
- Probate application fee of £155
- £7 Swearing of the oath (per executor)
- Bankruptcy-only Land Charges Department searches (£1 per beneficiary)
- £84.60 Post in The London Gazette – Protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors.
- £75 Post in a Local Newspaper – This also helps to protect against unexpected claims.
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.
Potential additional costs
- If there is no will or the estate consists of any share holdings (stocks and bonds) there is likely to be additional costs 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 will cost 50p (1 per asset usually).
- Dealing with the sale or transfer of any property in the estate is not included.
How long will this take?
It is difficult to try to estimate how long on average an estate will take to administer as each estate is different and unique but as an estimate we would say that on average, relatively simple estates that fall within the above range are dealt with within 4-12 months. Typically, obtaining the grant of probate takes 8-16 weeks. Collecting assets then follows, which can take between 4-16 weeks. Once this has been done, we can distribute the assets, which normally takes between 16-52 weeks.
As part of our fixed fee we will:
- Provide you with a dedicated and experienced probate solicitor to work on your matter
- Identify the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries
- Accurately identify the type of Probate application you will require
- Obtain the relevant documents required to make the application
- Complete the Probate Application and the relevant HMRC forms
- Draft a legal oath for you to swear
- Make the application to the Probate Court on your behalf
- Obtain the Probate and securely send two copies to you
- Collect and distribute all assets in the estate
Disbursements and advance payments
During the conduct of your matter there may be occasions where we are requested to advance payments on your behalf to third parties. As part of our service to our clients we may make such payments from our own resources when requested to do so. Any advance payments are made by way of an advance of the estate and will be reimbursed to the office when in funds from the estate. We will not make any charge for interest on any advances made during the conduct of a matter. For the purposes of clarification any such advances are not personal loans but are advances made by Curtis Legal Ltd.
Simon Jenkins has over 20 years of collective experience in delivering high quality work in all matters relating to wills and estate administration. He is the head of our team and has over 20 years’ experience in private client work particularly wills and probate and conveyancing.
Simon qualified as a solicitor in 1994 after completing a Law Degree and attending the college of Law in Chester to complete the Solicitors final examinations. He joined our firm in 2000 and became a partner in 2002.