OUR PROBATE AND ADMINISTRATION SERVICE
Bereavement is a very difficult time and we are pleased to offer a comprehensive Probate Service tailored to meet your individual situation.
Our solicitor specialising in this area is Naomi Pinder. Naomi was admitted as a solicitor in 1988 and has specialised in private client since September 1997, so she has a vast amount of experience in helping clients in relation to both planning for the future (making Wills, Trusts and Lasting Powers of Attorney) and administering estates after a person has died. Naomi is used to dealing with estates where there is a Will and also where the person has died without leaving a legally valid Will.
Naomi is a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly which is a professional body of lawyers who specialise in this area of the law and she has a dedicated assistant Charlotte Worsley who will always be pleased to help.
Naomi will have care of your file and is always pleased to help if you have any queries or concerns during your case. You can contact Naomi by telephone 0151 428 2472 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and if she is not available straightaway, Naomi will contact you as soon as practical. If Naomi is away from the office, for example seeing clients in their home or delivering training, Charlotte will be able to assist you.
Naomi is dedicated to providing an efficient and cost-effective service for clients. An issue regarding legal costs is when they are unknown because they are measured in accordance with the time which is reasonably spent in dealing with the matter.
Naomi is used to talking about legal costs with clients so that there are no surprises at the ends of the case. She approaches costs in a matter of fact manner and she takes care that clients understand how costs will work. The costs and expenses are called testamentary expenses which means that they are paid from the person’s estate. The exception to this rule is if the estate does not have sufficient funds to pay the costs, for example the estate comprises the house or if it is insolvent. In this case the client is required to pay the costs as a matter of straightforward contract law, the position is the same as applies to funeral costs.
It is important to Naomi that the service provides good value for money and this may involve collaborative working, this means that the family take responsibility for certain things such as dealing with the household bills, clearing the house or contacting the banks. There is no pressure at all for families to do this and it may not be possible for all sorts of reasons, for example the family don’t live locally. Naomi will discuss this with the family.
In relation to costs, if the family take responsibility for certain things, it means that there is less work for Naomi and this will reduce the costs.
It must be emphasised that each client’s situation is different and Naomi will take time to talk, so that there is understanding and agreement about the service and costs.
The cost of obtaining a Grant of Representation (this term covers cases where the deceased left a Will and where the deceased died without leaving a Will) is £700 + vat = £840.
This will cover spending time with clients; obtaining the Will; reading and explaining the Will; explaining the way the law works where there is no Will (intestacy); receiving information about the nature and extent of the estate; preparing the Inheritance Tax Return in IHT 205; the application forms, preparing legal notices to other executors; any other matters which will be relevant to the case and which will be discussed and agreed. It isn’t possible to cover every eventuality in this information because everyone’s circumstances are different.
If the nature or size of the estate means that the full Inheritance Tax return is required, the cost is £1,400 + vat = £1,680. This reflects the increased amount of work involved.
There are always payments made to third parties which are called disbursements and in a typical case these are the £158 court fee paid to the Probate Registry; £1.50 for each official copy of the Grant of Representation.
We also offer a full administration service which means dealing with the collection of the estate, payment of debts and liabilities, tax, sale of house and dealing with assets such as shares; preparation of estate accounts for approval by the residuary beneficiaries and distribution of the estate. We offer a range of service as explained earlier and Naomi likes to work with families as far as possible to create a bespoke service for the client and providing the best value for money.
Naomi believes that as much money as possible should go to the person’s beneficiaries (whether persons or charities) and not in legal fees.
Fixed Fee Or Hourly Rate?
The choice belongs to the client and is made after full discussion with Naomi.
Naomi has worked using both types of paying for the service and there are pros and cons of both fixed fees and paying for the work to reflect the actual time spent in dealing with the matter.
The fee would be agreed at the outset and it cannot change. The advantage is that the client knows what the payment will be at the end of the day.
The disadvantage is that it not possible to know what will be involved in a case at the outset and an estate may seem very straightforward at the beginning and then there are complications such as additional assets or debts; family disputes; tax or benefit issues; problems in collecting the assets.
At the end of the day a fixed fee can be too high or too low and it does not always reflect the amount of work carried out.
The fixed fee would reflect the known facts about the estate at the start and would typically be between £1,500 for a straightforward estate and £8,000 + vat in relation to a complicated estate.
In deciding what is a simple or complicated estate, factors such as the number and type of assets and liabilities, number of beneficiaries and their whereabouts, family dynamics, wording of the Will or Will Trust are all relevant factors.
The hourly rate means that the cost is calculated in accordance with the actual work carried out on behalf of clients.
Naomi’s rate is £230 + vat per hour and time is charged in units of 6 minutes, so this means that a letter costs £23 + vat = £27.60.
Naomi would provide an estimate of costs at the outset which is reviewed as the case proceeds, typically an administration will cost between £1,500 and £6,000. + VAT.
Interim bills will be produced, agreed with clients and paid from the estate which avoids a big bill at the end. It is important that clients feel in control of the costs and don’t feel that costs are a mystery and that they are running up for no reason.
Remember that Naomi is always pleased to work with families so that they do what they can to reduce fees and involves them in the process and gives them control over the aspects they want to be in control of, such as dealing with the personal belongings.
Joe died on 1st September and he left a Will appointing his elderly sister and Catherine Higgins Law as the executors of the estate. Naomi has met with the family and has a good understanding of the family dynamics and the potential for falling out. Naomi takes great care to avoid any falling out, firstly because this would be disastrous for the family but also the legal costs in dealing with family fallouts are very high.
In his Will, Joe left his personal belongings to his sister. Naomi had advised him in relation to his Will and advised that he may consider a defined gift of his belongings to his sister. This would mean that she would be able to deal with them and have control over whether or not she wishes any of the other family members to receive anything. It avoids the solicitor from being responsible for this aspect and therefore saves legal costs payable from Joe’s estate.
In Joe’s case, his sister deals with his belongings as far as possible and arranges for a local charity to have anything they can use and then I organise the final clearance, using a local clearance firm I work with and which provides an efficient and value for money service.
The clear advantage of the hourly rate is that it reflects the time spent in dealing with the case and is fair to both clients and to the solicitor and our fees are agreed with the executors. It works on the basis that clients trust Naomi to do her job properly and efficiently, this has not been an issue.
The cost is open ended BUT remember that clients receive estimates and are kept informed about costs and interim bills are produced at regular intervals after the Grant of Representation has been made and there are funds to pay the bills collected from the estate.
As described earlier on, there are disbursements which are expenses paid to third parties which will include search fees (£2 per beneficiary); office copy fees (£3 per property); insurance; expert fees eg surveyor, accountant, valuer, clearance, stockbroker; Trustee Act Notices (approx. £220), the sale fees for property include estate agent and legal fees. Note that these expenses are listed in the estate accounts.
It is difficult to say with accuracy what the final costs would be in relation to an administration because the case can unfold like Pandora’s Box. It is clear that a simple estate involving few assets and few beneficiaries will cost less than a complex estate and numerous beneficiaries.
Our service is tailor made for you, Naomi has over 30 years’ experience as a solicitor and over 20 years’ experience in this area of the law. She combines legal and practical knowledge to put her clients first and she aims to provide the best service possible at a difficult and sad time for her clients.
By providing your details, you are happy to allow contact about your query from a solicitor at Catherine Higgins Law Limited.