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UK uncontested probate and estate administration fees

We calculate our costs based on time spent and hourly rates, allocating the work between team members of varying levels of seniority, experience and expertise according to the nature and complexity of the work.  We price our work in this way regardless of whether the estate is a simple UK only estate, or a complex multi-jurisdictional estate.

The following sections provide an indication of our costs and anticipated time scales for uncontested cases where all the assets are in the UK, as required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.  However, as each estate is different, there will be variations in costs and time scales, according to the amount and complexity of the work required.  Therefore, the following sections should be viewed as a guide only. 

As mentioned above, we calculate our fees based on time spent and hourly rates, allocating the work between team members of varying levels of seniority, experience and expertise according to the nature and complexity of the work. Our hourly rates (which are reviewed annually) range from £230 to £980 + VAT for our non-partner fee earners and £610 to £1030 + VAT for partners.     

By way of indication of our costs: to apply for a grant, collect and distribute the assets of a simple, uncontested, UK situated estate (as described below), we would expect our costs to be in the region of £12,000 to £25,000 + VAT (at 20%) and disbursements.  In this example, the assets comprising the 'simple' estate and the relevant circumstances would be as follows:

  • there is a valid Will;
  • all surviving executors can be found and are willing and able to act;
  • the assets comprise:
    • one property held in the deceased's sole name;
    • the contents of the property (e.g. furniture and personal possessions but excluding high value jewellery, works of art and antiques);
    • a managed investment portfolio;
    • no more than five bank accounts;
    • all of which are situated in the UK and together are worth up to £2.5m;
  • the deceased had no liabilities (including tax liabilities);
  • the deceased was UK domiciled and UK resident;
  • the estate is exempt from inheritance tax;
  • the estate is left outright (not in trust) to no more than two beneficiaries (both of whom are individuals, adults, and easily traceable);
  • all assets (other than cash needed to settle the estate's liabilities and expenses) are transferred to the beneficiaries 'in specie' (i.e. in their current form, without converting to cash); and
  • there are no claims against the estate, or disputes in relation to the Will or the division of the assets.

Any variation from the facts described above may affect the cost.  Relevant factors (which will affect the amount and complexity of the work required and the corresponding cost) include, whether there is a valid Will, whether or not the estate is chargeable to inheritance tax, whether tax reliefs can be claimed, whether assets are left on trust, whether the estate comprises other assets (other than those detailed in the above example), whether any assets are situated outside of the UK, whether the deceased had any liabilities, whether there is someone who is familiar with the deceased's financial affairs, whether the deceased was tax compliant, whether the deceased was non-UK resident and/or non-UK domiciled, the number of beneficiaries, the number of legacies, whether there are any charitable legacies, whether any assets need to be sold (for example to pay liabilities or expenses, or at the beneficiaries' request), whether a grant is needed on an urgent basis, and whether there is any claim against the estate or any dispute affecting the right to administer or benefit from the estate. 

We will always aim to give an accurate estimate of costs at the outset, based on the information provided to us by the executors but this is not always possible, particularly where there is a dispute. Should new circumstances come to light, we will update you on any changes to the estimated costs.

NOTE: VAT is chargeable at 20%

Disbursements will be charged in addition to our time costs. Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. We handle the payment of disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.

The following table sets out some of the more common disbursements that we will incur in the administration of an estate:

Probate application fee £273 (plus £1.50 per official copy)
Notices to creditors, placed in the London Gazette and a local newspaper Variable according to local paper's rates but estimated at £210 +VAT
Land charges search Approximately £3 +VAT
Bankruptcy searches against beneficiaries prior to each distribution UK resident beneficiary: £2 +VAT per search; Non-UK resident beneficiary: variable according to jurisdiction but estimated £50 - £100 +VAT
Unknown asset search (UK situated assets only) £195 +VAT
Will search £99 +VAT
Digital assets search £35 +VAT


Unknown disbursements include executors' insurance, and third-party professional fees such as accountants, valuers, surveyors and foreign lawyers.

The particular work involved in the administration of an estate will vary from one estate to another. However, the process will generally involve the following key stages:

  1. Determining who will be responsible for administering the estate (if there is a Will, this will be one or more of the executors provided they are able and willing) and determining who is entitled to the estate according to the terms of the Will or the intestacy rules;
  2. Ascertaining the assets and liabilities of the estate and the asset holders' specific requirements for the transfer of the assets concerned;
  3. Calculating the inheritance tax liability of the estate and (where required) completing the inheritance tax return and advising on the payment of the inheritance tax;
  4. Applying for a grant of representation;
  5. Collecting in the assets and settling any liabilities of the estate;
  6. Ensuring all tax liabilities for the estate (inheritance tax, as well as income tax and capital gains tax for the period of administration) have been determined and settled; and
  7. Distributing the estate.

The time that it takes to obtain a grant and administer an estate will depend on a number of factors including the complexity of the assets, whether inheritance tax is payable, whether an inheritance tax return is required (sometimes being required even where there is no inheritance tax payable), and the level and speed of engagement of the executors, beneficiaries, asset holders and other third parties.

However, as a general guide, for a simple, uncontested, UK situated estate such as the one described in the costs section above, we would expect the whole process to take 8 to 13 months.  Within that time, we would expect it to take between 6 and 9 months to obtain the grant; 1 to 2 months to collect the assets; and 1 to 2 months to settle the tax liabilities and distribute the assets.

Please note that the process will take considerably longer for more complex estates, where a period of 2 years (or more) is not unusual.

The following work would be included in the costs estimate for a simple, uncontested, UK situated estate such as the one described in the costs section above:

  • Reviewing the Will, advising who has a right to administer the estate, and confirming the executors' agreement to act;
  • Having an initial meeting with the executors (either in person or by video conference) to advise on the probate and estate administration process, obtain from our client the information needed to apply for the grant (including detail of any gifts or chargeable transfers made by the deceased that may be chargeable to inheritance tax), and advise on the entitlement to the estate;
  • Writing to the beneficiaries to inform them of their entitlement and enquire of any gifts received from the deceased in the 7 years prior to his death;
  • Arranging for statutory notices for creditors to be placed in the Gazette and a newspaper local to the deceased's home;
  • Writing to the deceased's bank(s) and to the deceased's investment manager to request date of death valuations and ascertain their requirements to collect-in the bank balances and transfer the investments, and arranging a valuation of the property;
  • Advising on the exemption from inheritance tax and confirming no inheritance tax is payable;
  • Preparing the application for a grant of probate, including a summary of the gross (and net) value of the estate;
  • Once the grant is issued: notifying the bank(s) and the investment manager of the grant, collecting-in the deceased's bank balances, and settling any estate expenses from those balances;
  • Assuming the estate is not a 'complex estate' (determined by criteria set by HM Revenue & Customs), reporting any income earned by the estate, using the 'informal basis' and paying any income tax due;
  • Preparing estate accounts;
  • Carrying out bankruptcy searches against UK resident beneficiaries prior to any distribution in excess of £1,000 in value; and
  • Arranging for the remaining cash, the property and the investments to be transferred to the beneficiaries.

There are many services that we can (and often do) provide when dealing with the administration of an estate, which may be necessary even for a simple, uncontested, UK situated estate such as the one described in the costs section above, but which cannot be anticipated and are not included in the above costs estimate. 

In particular, please note that conveyancing services associated with the transfer of the property are not included.  Other examples (but this is by no means an exhaustive list) of services not included in the above costs estimate are as follows:

  • Deeds of renunciation;
  • Affidavits as to the execution, validity or plight and condition of the Will;
  • Advice in relation to any trust interest the deceased had during his lifetime;
  • Deeds of variation or disclaimer;
  • Lifetime tax compliance work;
  • Securing and managing the property;
  • Clearing the property and/or delivering the deceased's personal possessions to the beneficiaries;
  • Managing a rental property;
  • Bankruptcy searches against non-UK resident beneficiaries; and
  • Determining the division of the investments where there is more than one residuary beneficiary (such division to be decided by the executors in consultation with the investment manager).

If you would like to contact our Estate Administration & Probate team.

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