Compare Probate Services

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Compare Probate Services and Prices

Before choosing your probate specialist, it’s well worth shopping around to find the best service at the best possible price. Here, we’ll look at the main things you need to look out for when comparing probate services in England and Wales.

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    Grant of Probate

    A grant of probate is a document issued by HM Probate Court. It proves that either an executor or administrator of an estate has the authority to deal with the assets of someone who has died. Banks often need to see a grant of probate before they will release funds, and it’s also required if a house or other property needs to be sold.

    To obtain a grant of probate, a series of inheritance tax forms and income tax forms need to completed and then submit them to HMRC, this can be very time-consuming and for most people, it’s very confusing. To avoid this, you can employ the services of a probate specialist to act on your behalf. Once HMRC is satisfied you will receive a summary of probate (since Covid-19 HMRC sends the summary of probate directly to the Probate Court)

    Your probate specialist will then apply for a grant of probate at the Probate Court. If you aren’t used to all the legal jargon, you can easily make mistakes when applying for probate yourself. Instead, many people choose to use a professional probate specialist to help them get probate. You may see these referred to as ‘grant-only’ services. The average price for this service checked with over 100 providers is £1,286

    Full Estate Administration

    Full estate administration
    Full estate administration is everything that needs to be done to sort out someone’s affairs — not just the grant of probate. It could mean selling the property via estate agents or property auctions, clearing the house, settling inheritance tax, capital gains tax and income tax bills. Calling up banks, filling out their forms, closing accounts, paying other debts, sorting out pensions, selling shares, collecting in funds, paying everything out to the beneficiaries, and so on.

    This juggling act can be very challenging for some people, particularly after dealing with a loss of a loved one. But the main issue is that it’s very time-consuming. From start to finish, the whole estate administration process takes around 9-12 months, which can be particularly difficult to do yourself if you’re also working full time it also has to be noted that there are time limits for certain things that need to be completed.

    If there is a property to sell this needs to transferred into the beneficiary’s names before it can be sold. Some probate specialists offer this service and some who charge low fees for obtaining probate will charge higher fees for transferring the property at Land Registry.  

    Which Service is Right For Me?

    When you compare probate specialists and get quotes from probate solicitors, there’s a good chance that unless you state exactly what you want to be done on your behalf, some of the quotes you receive will actually be for full estate administration. Many solicitors often try to upsell their clients to full estate administration because it’s a far more expensive option; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right option for you.

    Here are the three main things to consider when choosing between a grant-only/grant and property or that of full estate administration:

    Time


    It’s important to think about how much time you’ll realistically be able to spend dealing with paperwork and estate administration. If you’re working or have children to look after, it’s going to be very difficult to find any spare time to sort out the estate. But if you’re retired and don’t have many other commitments, you could save money by dealing with all the administration yourself. Please note that if you are an executor or administrator of an estate you are legally liable to ensure everything is completed properly, mistakes can cause delays, rejections, interest charges and penalties.

    Complexity


    If the estate is only made up of a few bank accounts with a total of less than £5,000 then usually you will not need to complete probate if the estate value is over £5,000 and there’s no property to transfer or sell, you could probably deal with the estate administration yourself. But if there is property involved in the estate,  bank accounts, pensions, life insurance policies it’s very likely to be a much more complicated process and most people will need a probate specialist to help complete the process.

    Cost

    Grant-only probate services usually range from £500 to £2,000, with an average of £1,286 while full estate administration services can be anywhere from £1,200 to £25,000 with an average of £6,172 However, it’s important to get quotes from a range of providers, as prices can vary quite considerably for the exact same service.

    Different ways solicitors charge for probate

    Another thing to consider when you compare probate services is that solicitors charge for probate in different ways and will only offer an estimate of a minimum to a possible maximum. Some other solicitors will provide a percentage value of the estate. This can make it difficult to calculate exactly how much you’ll have to pay, but you may be able to make an estimate based on the value of the estate.

    Here are the three main ways solicitors charge for probate:

    Fixed price
    This is where your probate solicitor will quote you a fixed price upfront, including any additional costs for the probate registry fees or copies of probate. This is the safest option as it ensures there are no hidden costs to worry about later.

    Percentage basis
    This is where the probate solicitor charges a percentage (usually 2-4%) of the estate’s total value. Percentage-based pricing often sounds great on paper, but – for a simple estate worth £300,000 – you could easily end up paying between £6,000 and £12,000.

    Hourly rate
    Though this is gradually being phased out, some solicitors still charge their clients on an hourly rate, which can be anywhere from £150 to £300 an hour. This is most often the riskiest choice, as it’s very difficult to know exactly how much you’ll need to pay upfront.

    Questions to ask when getting quotes for probate

    To compare probate services accurately it’s important to understand the level of service you’re likely to receive. Here are some questions you should always ask when you compare probate services:

    1. Do I need professional help at all?
    They should ask you about the circumstances and give you relevant advice. Don’t be pushed into something you don’t want.

    2. Do you offer grant-only probate or estate administration, and which is right for me?
    You should be asked about the circumstances and be given clear suggestions about the level of service that’s right for you. We’ve spoken to many people who said this wasn’t made clear at all by their solicitor or specialist.

    3. What will it cost?
    Make sure they’re very clear on the cost and whether it includes VAT (current rate 20%) and expenses like the court fee currently £155 if you use a specialist or solicitor (or £215 if you do it yourself).  Please note that some solicitors call the court fee and land registry fee “disbursements” and sometimes do not even mention the costs of those “disbursements”. Land registry fees vary drastically based upon the value of the property and how it is completed the fees start at £20 and go up to £910.

    4. Will you charge by fixed fee, hourly rate or percentage?
    Be wary of services charging by hourly rate or a percentage of the estate as you’re likely to pay substantially more in the long run. One of the biggest reasons people complain about probate services is because the total cost wasn’t made clear upfront.

    5. How long will it take?
    This is a very difficult question to answer for estate administration, as it can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years in the most complex of cases. But for a grant of probate, you should be given a clear timescale, which will likely be a matter of weeks.

    6. How will you keep me up to date?
    Communication is one of the biggest frustrations people have with solicitors, and it’s not unheard of for probate solicitors to go quiet for a number of weeks without updating their clients and if you are being hourly charged communication and dealing with client updates will add to the overall cost usually in intervals of 15 minute units, so a 15 minute update call could cost you £75. Solicitors will often also draft letters and charge the account anything from £150 per letter. When you speak to probate providers for a quote over the phone, always make a point of finding out how they’re going to keep you up to date.

    7. How can I contact you?
    Be clear on opening hours and whether you can contact them by phone, email or online chat.

    Get a fixed-price probate quote today

    At Probate Specialist, we offer a grant-only probate service from just £499 with probate and land registry from only £998 – and we also provide a full estate administration service for as little as £1,899 

    New: Get an instant online quote for grant only probate

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