This page was last updated on 1 November 2020.
Cost of probate fees
How much does probate cost?
The cost of probate varies, depending on the estate and who handles the process. The cost of probate has two main components; fixed costs and variable costs. Fixed costs are essentially the application fee.
Variable costs are effectively anything else, including the specialist probate services. The fixed cost is a minimum of £155, and the variable fee is likely to be around 1-5% of the value of the estate, plus VAT.
Topics that you will find covered on this page
Who is responsible for paying for probate?
The cost of probate fees are paid out of the deceased’s estate. So while the process will not cost the executor or administrator, they should still try to keep the cost low for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
Can I do probate myself?
It is possible to do probate yourself, and if you are dealing with a small, simple estate, this can save thousands of pounds.
When deciding if you want to appoint a probate solicitor or specialist, you should consider the complexity of the estate and the amount of time you have to work on the probate process.
Also, it will take 50-80 hours to do probate, so you have to take into account whether you have enough free time.
Here is a video that explains what probate is.
How much does probate cost to do it yourself?
If you decide to do probate yourself, you will only have to pay a fixed fee. If the deceased person’s estate is worth over £5000 after you have paid for their funeral costs and settled their debts, it costs £215 to apply for probate to HM Courts and Tribunals Service. If the deceased’s estate is worth less than this, the application is free.
Can I get legal aid for probate?
No. The government and Legal Aid Agency will not pay the cost of Wills, Probate, lasting power of attorney, and trusts.
Breakdown of probate fees in the UK
Here is a breakdown of what is involved when calculating probate fees.
1 – What does the fixed fee probate cost?
There is a fixed fee for applying for probate. If costs £155 to have a probate solicitor or specialist file an application. If you are applying as an individual, if the person who passed had an estate worth more than £5000 after you have paid off the funeral costs and debts, the fee is £215.
2 – How much is the variable fee of probate?
This is less predictable. If the estate is small and the assets are not too complicated, you can keep the costs down by administering the estate yourself.
If you enlist the help of a probate specialist, the cost of their work depends on the solicitors or specialists you choose. A specialist or solicitor will generally charge around 1-5% of the value of the estate. Some will choose to charge based on their hourly rate or a fixed fee.
3 – How will the probate service set their fees?
There are three main ways that probate services and solicitors charge for their help and services. These are:
- A percentage share based on the value of the estate. This is likely to be between 2 and 5% of the value of the estate. This works in the client’s favour where the estate is complicated but small, but this type of fee arrangement should be avoided for large but simple estates.
- An hourly rate. For a solicitor’s advice, this is likely to be between £100 and £250 per hour. This is problematic when there are unexpected complications.
- A fixed fee. This is usually based on a questionnaire about the details of your case before they give a quote. This fee will include the cost of the probate specialist or solicitor getting a grant of probate. The benefit of this is that you will be more clear about the probate costs.
4 -What are probate solicitors’ fees?
Probate solicitors will help you administer the deceased’s estate and complete the grant of probate application. The charge for a solicitor’s services is usually 3-5% of the value of the estate. The hourly rate will vary depending on how experienced the solicitors giving advice are.
Solicitor’s probate fees for probate are authorised and regulated by the Law Society. The Law Society sets a base fee of 0.75% of the estate value, then 1.5% the financial value of any other assets.
If it is a contentious probate and there is challenge to the Will or the executor, then the costs can be higher.
5 – What are probate specialist fees?
Probate specialists are generally the cheapest option. A probate specialist is anyone who has a speciality in probate work, though they are generally accountants. Probate specialists normally charge between 2 and 5% of the value of the estate for their work and services.
6 – How much do bank probate services cost?
Using a bank is generally the most expensive option.
The bank will usually charge between 4 and 5% of the estate’s value. If the deceased person used a bank to help write their will, they may have made the bank co-executor. In this instance, the bank may try and act as the professional executor and do the probate process.
However, if all the beneficiaries agree, you can ask the bank to step down.
7 – What are probate court fees?
A probate court fee is a type of disbursement. It is the fee a solicitor or specialist will charge for them applying for a grant of probate or letters of administration on your behalf. This costs £155, which is cheaper than if you deal with the probate registry yourself.
What are the additional costs of probate?
It is worth considering whether the probate fees include other third party costs, which can quickly stack up.
Third-party costs are often called disbursements, and can include:
- The probate court fee of £155 to apply for a grant of probate
- The cost of copies of the original grant of probate, at £1.50 a copy.
- The official entry of a house or property into the Land Registry of £3 plus VAT
- A bankruptcy search of approximately £2
- Around £5 plus VAT to have an electronic ID search done
- New Land Registry registration fees, which depend on the value and nature of the property
- Stockbroker fees of approximately £25 to £150
- S27 Advertisement in a local newspaper and the London Gazette, which is £150-£300, depending on how much the local paper advert costs
- Possibly an accountant’s fee for an income tax return or other financial work
- Asset tracing fees
- Other costs where there are complications, like for lost share certificates
- Copies of the death certificate for life insurance claims
What are ‘grant only’ probate and ‘full estate administration’?
When you look at probate prices, you will notice the term ‘full estate administration’ and ‘grant only’ probate. Grant only probate only covers the process of getting a grant of probate.
A grant of probate is necessary to prove you have the right to administer the estate and access the deceased’s personal accounts. ‘Full estate administration’ is where the probate services will handle everything to do with wrapping up and distributing someone’s property and assets.
What is a probate grant only service?
It is possible to use a grant only service, where a probate solicitor helps draft a grant of probate or grant of representation on your behalf and the rest of the process you do yourself.
The executor or administrator will have to provide the solicitor with all the relevant information first, and then the family is responsible for dealing with the estate once they have a probate certificate.
Some solicitors and professional services will help fill out the inheritance tax form where this is required.
How much does a grant only probate service cost?
It generally costs between £500 and £1500 for a solicitor or professional to draft your grant of probate application where the estate falls beneath the Inheritance Tax threshold.
Where you require a solicitor to also fill out the lengthy inheritance tax form, this is likely to cost £1000 to £2000 plus VAT. This is useful where the estate is relatively simple to administer, but you need help with the legal elements.
What is included in a full estate administration service?
Full Estate Administration covers everything to do with the person’s estate and assets. This includes liaising with banks, completing forms, selling shares, selling the home and other assets, and setting up an estate bank account.
While Full estate admin is more expensive, using these services saves you from the burdensome and challenging experience of handling the deceased’s estate and property, especially following the death of a friend or family member. Full estate admin may be needed where estate and property are very complicated.
You should also remember that probate can easily take up to 12 months.
What is the average cost of probate?
Full estate administration services are much more expensive than grant only probate. This can range between £1,250 for help with simple and small estates, to up to £25,000 for the large and more complex estates.
Other probate cost considerations
1 – What do I need to consider when dealing with a probate professional?
There are a number of details to look out for when getting a quote from solicitors or specialists. These include:
- Whether the initial advice and quotes are free.
- Disbursement costs- these are additional expenses you must pay as part of the probate process. For example, the application fee, getting documents certified, valuations, and conveyancing fees. You must find out how much these fees will be, and if they are included in the overall quote.
- When you will be required to pay the fees and disbursements. Some professional services will want the disbursement fees as they go along, or payment in stages.
- Whether VAT is included in the charge
- Make sure you know whether you are being given an estimate on the probate fees or the final bill. Some firms will want you to fill out a detailed fact-finding questionnaire or probate fees calculator before they give you a quote. Their figure is likely to be more accurate than firms who give a standard figure.
2 – How much does it cost to get copies of probate documents?
To administer the estate, you generally need a few copies of the grant of probate of the letter of administration. Each copy will cost you £1.50. All copies of the grant of probate will also include a copy of the will.
3 – How much does an application to remove an executor cost?
It is challenging to predict how much contending probate will cost. Where the issues are relatively simple, it is likely to cost between £5000 and £15,000 plus VAT to apply for an executor to be removed.
Where the issues are more complex, it can cost between £20,000 and £30,000 plus VAT to remove an executor.
It is worth remembering that they will also incur legal costs, and if you lose your case you will have to pay their costs too. You should definitely get legal advice before making applications.
How can I keep probate costs to a minimum?
Probate is an inherently expensive process. However, there are some ways you can save money:
- Contact solicitors and specialist services to get free quotes and advice so you can decide which is the cheapest one for you
- By planning whether you think full estate admin will be required, or if you can save money with grant only probate
- Shop around for solicitors and specialists. Most will have information on their website about what they offer, their percentage rate, and how to contact them. You should avoid using a bank as banks generally charge a higher percentage rate for a similar service.
- Get some of the initial work done yourself, like gathering financial details, paying off debts, collecting insurance payments, creating a bank account for the estate, and planning how to administer the estate.
- Ask the solicitor to keep correspondence and contact to a minimum. This is because there is often a charge for each letter you receive, so it is only worth getting essential advice.
How much does it cost for a solicitor to sort out a will?
The cost for a solicitor to draw up a will varies depending on the solicitor and the complexities of the case. Writing a Will will generally cost £150-£300 in England and Wales.
Even if you write your own will, it is a good idea to get a solicitor’s advice to make sure there are not any mistakes. Otherwise sorting out the Will will cost your executors a lot more after your death.
How much does setting up a trust under a will cost?
Often it will be stipulated in the will that a trust should be established on behalf of the beneficiaries, a charity, or on some rare occasions, for a purpose. You will usually need the help of a probate specialist or probate solicitor.
A simple trust (‘bare trust’) for beneficiaries will generally cost around £1000 to set up, plus VAT. To set up a ‘discretionary trust’, which is where the executors have discretion on how property is distributed is also likely to cost £1000.
There will be additional costs to transfer the assets into the trust, to set up bank accounts, deal with claims on life insurance, and to handle inheritance tax and capital gains tax claims.
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