Probate, in headline terms is proving a will is genuine, valid, and the most recent one: And authorizing an executor to implement it. We provide general information on the topic. However, if you are unsure you should always pay for professional advice. We share the cost of what this measure of comfort provides in summary form here.
Your Costs Include Fixed and Variable Expenses
The government charges a fee to process an application for probate. This rate is currently fixed, although it may change once parliament is over Brexit. For now at least the statutory costs are as follows (once funeral costs and debts are offset):
# There is no probate fee if the value of the estate is worth less than £5,000 subject to the above
# If it is worth more than that, then the fee is £215 (or £155 if you decide to use a professional)
This fee will soar to as much as £6,000 if the government’s proposals to parliament are eventually approved
However, the cost of administering an estate by a third party varies widely. A family friend may only claim their reasonable expenses. But a solicitor, probate specialist or bank will charge between 2.5% and 5% of the estate value.
They may calculate their bill based on a fixed or an hourly rate. Hence, a £500,000 estate could end up costing as much as £30,000 to administer. However, if the estate is simple then a partner or family friend might do it for nothing. All the fees we mention here include VAT.
Where to Go For Professional Advice
# Solicitors are still the traditional choice and many people don’t look further. They usually calculate their fees between 3% and 5% of estate value according to the UK Care Guide. Hence, that £500,000 estate could cost between £18,000 and £30,000.
# Probate specialists essentially provide a similar service although their fees are slightly lower at 2.5% to 5%. They might therefore charge between £15,000 and £30,000 for that £500,000 estate.
# Banks, however chime in as the most expensive of the lot between 4% and 5% typically. When the manager offers you a cup of tea and a smile, this could be because they are imagining charging £24,000 to £30,000 for the £500,000 estate.
How to Manage Solicitor, Specialist and Bank Charges Down
The information that follows is pretty much depending on the complexity of the estate, and a layperson being willing and able to do the ‘donkey work’. In that case, a service provider may charge a far lower price to provide advice and guidance only.
Before jumping at what seems like a bargain and doing a virtual DIY, there is one more thing to remember. Every executor is legally liable for their actions. Moreover, they may have to compensate the estate for losses down to their wilful negligence.
“Say not you know another entirely, till you have divided an inheritance with him.” (Johann Kaspar Lavater, 1741 – 1801)