Price Transparency

Probate

Our team at Gladstone Solicitors understand that dealing with a loved ones affairs after their death is often difficult. The administrative burden of dealing with somebody’s estate can be daunting.

Our team have extensive experience and can help you as little or as much as you need through this difficult time.

 

Meet the Team
Jeanette Ellis - Solicitor and Director. Jeanette qualified in 1990 and has extensive knowledge and experience in wills, probate and estates. She is the head of the department.
Gemma Carrington – Gemma is a paralegal and has worked in wills and probate over the last   27 years
Daniel Haslam – Daniel is a Trainee Solicitor who is specialising in wills and probate.

Probate

Probate is administering a deceased person’s estate. Essentially this means that you need to gather in all of their money, assets and property and then distribute them either in accordance with the inheritance legislation or with the deceased will, after paying any taxes or liabilities that are due.

It is important that checks are made to see if the deceased has left a will. If so they would have named executors. These are the people that they wish to administer their estate.

 

Grant of Probate

In some cases a Grant of Probate (a legal authority to deal with the estate) will not be needed. Some financial institutions are prepared to release monies to those entitled without a grant. These are small estates and each institution will have its own limit as to how much they will release.

You may need to take out a Grant of Probate. We would ask you to let us have as much information as you have with regard to the deceased assets and debts and liabilities. We would need to complete an inheritance tax form and pay any tax due on the estate. Currently the inheritance tax limit is £325,000 plus an additional £175,000 if passing property to a direct descendent. There are different forms to be completed dependant on the amount of the estate and whether it exceeds the inheritance tax threshold.

The application for the Grant of Probate is sent to the court with the death certificate and a will if any. Once the grant is received it is an authority to deal with the estate. You will then be able to gather in all of the assets and discharge all the debts before paying the residue in accordance with will or the intestacy legislation.

The time to obtain probate is likely to be 3-6 months from instruction. Much of the time will depend on the size of the estate and the court process.

We are able to offer a fixed costs for taking out the grant only for an estate that is under the inheritance tax limit.

The costs is £750 plus VAT of £150. The court fee is currently £155 and additional sealed copies of the grant are £1.50 each.

Our fixed fee for a grant only will include us completing the IHT205-HMRC form for inheritance tax return, drafting the statement of trust, completing the probate application and submitting the same to the probate registry, obtaining the grant or letters or administration and providing you with sealed copies.

If the estate is over the inheritance tax threshold and we need to complete an IHT400, the fixed fee will be £1200 plus VAT of £240. The court fee is currently £155 and additional sealed copies of the grant are £1.50 each.

You may wish us to obtain the Grant of Probate and then administer the deceased estate in accordance with the will or the inheritance legislation. This work will be charged at an hourly rate dependent on the seniority and experience of the person dealing with your work. In additional we will charge a value element of the gross estate. This will be a 0.5% if the principle residence or 1% where we are the appointed executors and 0.75% of the balance of the gross estate or 1.5% where we are appointed as executors.

The work undertaken in connection with the full distribution of the estate will include securing the appropriate Grant of Probate as indicated above, collecting in and distributing the assets of the estate according to the will or inheritance legislation. Providing full estate accounts detailing assets and income received, debts and liabilities paid and the distribution of the estate. It is difficult to give a quote when dealing with a full estate as the work that will be needed is variable. For example if an estate is worth £300,000 and is made up of 1 asset that is going to 1 beneficiary and there are few debts, then the costs incurred would be less than the same value estate of £300,000 being made up of numerous assets with numerous beneficiaries and a number of debts to be repaid.

For example if an estate is made up of a property worth £200,000 with £100,000 worth of assets in one bank account that is going to say two beneficiaries with few debts, the costs is likely to be in the region of £1,200 plus VAT of £240 and a value element of £2,000 plus VAT of £400. If the estate is made up of a property worth £200,000 and assets totalling £100,000 made up of a number of different smaller accounts and there are a number of beneficiaries then although the value element will remain the same as above, the additional work needed to gather in the assets and distribute the estate will be significantly more. You may be looking at costs in the region of £3000- £5000 plus VAT of £600-£1000. In additional to costs you will need to meet disbursements. These are payments that we need to make to a third party. Typically these will be as follows:-

1. Probate application fee currently £155 Plus £1.50 per additional sealed copy of the grant

2. Advertisement in the London Gazette and local newspapers totalling approximately £200 plus VAT

3. Official copies of the title if there is a property involved of £6.00

4. Bankruptcy searches against each beneficiary at £2.00 each.

5. We may need to instruct a Barrister or a tax expert if there are any particular issues and we will advise you of the costs of doing so in advance.

The costs of valuing any shares will also need to be met by the estate. The costs will be dependent on the number of shares involved.

The above is a guide to costs. When we are aware of the size of the estate and the number of beneficiaries we will be able to give a more accurate estimate of costs in your individual matter.

 

Time Scale

The length of time it takes to distribute the estate would normally be between 6-12 months depending on the nature of the assets. However, we would advise that the estate is not distributed within 9 months of the grant. This allows for the expiration of the statutory limitation period of 6 months together with a further three months to ensure that no claims have been filed against the estate.

Our team will be please to assist with any queries that you have with regards to fees or process.

Wills

More than half of the people in England and Wales have not made a will.

You might think that a Will is unnecessary for you because everything you have goes to your spouse or partner; this is not always so. Many people (especially young people) think that they shouldn’t make a Will whilst they are young because their circumstances will change over the years. In fact, young people need a will just as much. You should think about making a will now and alter it as your circumstances change.

Ø If you don’t make a will the Law decides where your assets, including your home and business will go. There are strict guidelines as to who should benefit from your estate according to its size and whether you are married or have registered a Civil Partnership. People often assume that all of their estate will automatically pass to their spouse but this is not the case. Depending on how much you leave, part of your estate may go to your children or even to your parents. If you are living with someone but are not married or registered as civil partners then your partner might not receive anything at all from your estate. All these potential problems can be resolved by making a will.

Ø Without a will, the Law also says who is responsible for dealing with your estate and does not take into account how complex your affairs may be and whether that person is suitable to deal with such matters. By making a Will youdecide what is to happen to your assets and who will be responsible for putting into operation your wishes.

Ø If you are divorced or separated it is very important you make a will and if you have young children even more so, to avoid any chance of your former spouse/partner having any input in or benefit from your estate (unless you want them to). Even if you are divorced, remember that without a will your former partner/spouse as the other parent is automatically your childrens’ next of kin if anything happens to you and will most probably be responsible for any money on trust for your children until they reach 18. He/she could also be your ultimate beneficiary if your children do not survive, as their closest relative.

Bear in mind that your Will only deals with the money and possessions that you have when you die. Your situation then may be very different from today. You may have a private pension and life assurance, which often means that if you die your estate will be worth significantly more than it is when you are alive. Your Will should therefore cover your present situation but take care to cover events that are likely to affect you and your loved ones in the future.

Using a solicitor

 

Of course you can ‘do it yourself’, but a badly drafted Will can leave a lot of extra grief and expense to your nearest and dearest. A Solicitor is qualified to prepare your Will using wording which we know will achieve what you want. This will include the various legal technicalities necessary to achieve your wishes. Depending upon the size of your estate, your Solicitor can also give you advice on Inheritance Tax planning using your will.

Your Executors

 

The Executors are the people legally responsible for administering your Will and are appointed by you. They are usually responsible for :-

a) Making your funeral arrangements

b) Ascertaining exactly what assets you own

c) Collecting in the assets and paying your debts (including any tax and funeral expenses)

d) Investing any money left on trust under the will (i.e. for children)

e) Distributing what is left to the beneficiaries of your will

It is usually a good idea to appoint two Executors. One Executor will do in limited circumstances, but you can have up to four if you think it necessary. An Executor can also be a beneficiary under the will. When choosing your Executors you should take into account their ages, health and whether they have special abilities or close family connections which will assist them in helping your family. It is usually a good idea to ask their approval before you appoint them, as they are entitled to refuse. Administering a Will can be complicated and sometimes it is a good idea to appoint a Solicitor as your Executor either solely or along with a member of your family, especially if any of the Beneficiaries are children. We are happy to be appointed as Executors of your Will and can discuss the likely charges for this at present values.

Beneficiaries

 

Gifts can be either of specific items, i.e. your jewellery or your house, sums of money or percentage shares in your estate. In all cases your Will should include the gift of the remainder of your estate (we call this the ‘residue’). The method by which gifts are made under your Will falls into a number of categories :

· Personal Belongings You can leave specific items of property to particular people. If you do, it is vital that the items and recipients are clearly described as it is surprisingly easy for a misunderstanding to arise. If you dispose of the items before you die, the gift will fail.

· Legacies of Money Should you wish to leave a specific sum of money to a particular person it is important that your Will clearly states the amount of money, to whom it is to be paid and (if the gift is to a child) at what age they can receive it, i.e. 18, 21 or more years.

· Charities Many people make gifts on their death to a favourite charity. Gifts to UK registered charities are tax-free, which can be an advantage in Inheritance Tax planning. We can provide you with further information about giving to Charities and using the Charity Commission’s database we can confirm the charity’s registered status, correct name and registered number.

· Residue This is what is left after payment of all taxes, debts, administration expenses and legacies. You can leave your residue to only one person, e.g. your spouse or partner, or you can divide it up amongst a number of people in whatever shares you want. You will probably wish to think about what you want to happen if you and your partner or spouse die together and whom you would then wish to benefit. If you wish to leave the residue to your children there are a number of points you will need to consider and which we will discuss with you. If you have younger children, it might be wise to think what you would want to happen to your money if you all died together (i.e. while travelling).

To advise you properly, it is crucial for us to know what assets you own in your sole name and what assets you may own jointly. If your home is owned jointly you will hold the property as either ‘Joint Tenants’ or ‘Tenants in Common’ and the two have very different effects. If Joint Tenants the property automatically passes to the survivor. This is irrespective of what you say in your will and there may be a number of reasons why it may be advisable to ‘sever’ the joint tenancy so that you can leave your ‘share’ under the terms of your Will. This is something else which you should discuss with us when giving instructions for the will.

 

Your Family

 

A brief outline of your immediate family, together with details of anyone who may be thought of as ‘dependant’ upon you (whether related to you or not, including children) is very helpful. You could prepare a Family Tree if things are complicated. This way we can advise you on whether anyone named in your Will or excluded from it could challenge it after your death. You may help your executors by leaving them an advisory ‘letter of wishes’ if you want.

Providing for children

 

A Will can appoint Guardians to be legally responsible for and look after your children after your death. A Guardian will have full responsibility as if he or she were the child’s parent. The appointment only takes effect when there is no surviving parent with parental responsibility, unless a Court has granted a Residence Order in favour of the ‘Guardian’. Guardians can act alone or with a surviving spouse or partner. They can be the same people as your Executors but there are sometimes advantages in having different people for the two jobs. It is important to discuss this aspect more fully with us.

You should ask your Guardian(s) if they are prepared to act in that capacity before making the appointment under your Will, otherwise the responsibility for choosing someone may be left to the Courts. Like an Executor, a Guardian is entitled to turn down the appointment so it is important they know in advance what you are planning.

The Will should make adequate provision for your children while they are growing up. The Guardian(s) should have some control over the way in which the childrens’ trust is administered. You may wish to make a percentage of your estate available to the child or children only after they have reached a certain age e.g. 18, 21 or sometimes more years. If the child in question suffers from a disability, the length of time could be substantially longer - perhaps for their lifetime - depending upon the extent of their disability.

Inheritance Tax

No tax is payable on money left by one spouse to another (including civil partners). However, if you are not married or in a registered civil partnership your estate will pay tax at 40%. The first £325,000.00 is exempt from tax (2020/21). There is an additional allowance of £175,000 if you are leaving your property to a direct descendent.

If your estate is likely to attract Inheritance Tax we can sometimes suggest ways of reducing your liability by altering your will. You should also discuss your situation with an Independent Financial Adviser to see whether there is anything you can do during your lifetime to reduce your liability to tax. You can get more information on Inheritance Tax from the HM Revenue & Customs website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/leaflets/iht.htm

Reviewing your will

Once you have made a Will, you will need to keep it under review and update it from time to time depending upon your circumstances. Any of the following will justify reviewing your will :

· Marriage or Civil Partnership

· Divorce or ending a long- term relationship

· Becoming a parent

· Inheriting a sum of money

· Death, bankruptcy or divorce of an Executor, Guardian or Beneficiary

· Further changes to the Inheritance Tax regime

Minor amendments can be dealt with by making a ‘Codicil’. If an Executor or beneficiary changes address or marries, you can give us a note to place with the Will but it is usually not necessary to alter the Will itself.

What does it Cost?

The majority of Wills that we prepare are on a fixed fee basis. Our current rates are as follows:-

Type

Our fees

VAT

Total

Single Will (basic)

£150.00

£30.00

£180.00

Single Will Property Trust Clause

£230.00

£46.00

£276.00

Couple Will (basic)

£250.00

£50.00

£300.00

Couple Will Property Trust Clause

£400.00

£80.00

£480.00

Codicil to your Will (single)

£75.00

£15.00

£90.00

Statement of Wishes

£50.00

£10.00

£60.00

Severance of tenancy of joint property

£75.00

£15.00

£90.00

If we have to incorporate Tax Planning Trusts into your Will then the cost will increase to match the greater amount of work needed. Occasionally when someone is very ill or undergoing serious medical treatment it is advisable to obtain a short report from their GP who will usually charge for this. We always discuss this with you first.

We also have fixed fees for the preparation of a Severance of Joint Tenancy and Lasting Power of Attorney. If it is difficult for you to attend the office due to disability or ill health we can visit you at home during office hours.

 

We are happy to store your Will free of charge, regardless of whether you have appointed us as Executors. There is no charge for releasing the will back to you, but we may have to charge if you wish us to post it to someone else, e.g. for insurance against loss in the post.

Residential Conveyancing

Our team at Gladstone Solicitors understand that buying and selling a property can be both stressful and exciting in equal measures. Our team have extensive experience. We have been awarded the CQS accreditation that confirms that we meet the Law Society Quality standard assessment with all the team sitting and undertaking continuous training and annual assessments so that you have confidence in our ability to guide you through your sale and purchase.

Meet the Team

Jeanette Ellis – Solicitor and Director. Jeanette qualified in 1990 and has extensive knowledge and experience in residential conveyancing. She is the head of the department and the Senior Reporting Officer.

Rebecca McGarry – Rebecca has over 20 years’ experience. She is a fully qualified member of the Society of Licenced Conveyancers. 

Samantha Buckle – Samantha is a paralegal in the conveyancing team who has gained experience in residential property over the last 20 years.

Purchase – The Process

Prior to exchange of contract

Once you have agreed to purchase a property you will need to give the estate agents our details. They will send this on to the seller’s solicitors who will forward a draft contract to us. Neither the buyer nor seller is committed to the transaction until contracts have been exchanged. This is usually around 8-12 weeks after first contact.

Whilst preparing for exchange we will need to review the contract documents, the searches (local authority, environmental, water and drainage) and your mortgage offer. We will look at the information that has been provided by the seller and we will provide you with a property report dealing with all matters prior to exchange.

We will ensure that the contract, which is legally binding once exchanged, contains all of the terms that have been agreed.

Once you have exchanged contracts you are bound to purchase the property. A completion date would have been agreed prior to exchange of contracts. This is the date when you will become the legal owner of the property and monies payable will change hands.

There are two ways in which you can hold the property and we will discuss this with you prior to exchange of contract, if you are buying with another person. You may wish to hold as joint tenants which effectively means that on your death the property will automatically pass to the co-owner. You could hold as tenants in common which means your share could pass to your estate and therefore can be left by will according to your wishes. Tenants in common does not need to be in equal shares and could therefore reflect your respective contributions.

You may wish to have a separate Declaration of Trust. This can set out a number of matters including but not limited to the division of the shares of the property. A Declaration of Trust will be charged as an additional fee to the purchase quote that you would have been given.

The searches that you will require may differ from each property. Searches are generally required by your mortgage lender. If you are a cash buyer you can choose whether to have searches. We would advise that you consider taking out insurance, at an additional cost if you do not require searches.

If you are selling a property in order to finance your purchase we will ensure that contracts are exchanged simultaneously. This means that we will make sure that you are legally committed to both sell and buy your new home on the same date. You can break the chain if for example you are willing to sell your property and move into some temporary accommodation until you are able to exchange on your purchase. Alternatively you may be in a position to buy a second property without completing on the sale on your current property.

It is frustrating when you are in a chain of sales and purchases that all have to be synchronised. It is extremely important that you discuss with us any proposed completion date at the earliest possible opportunity as all parties in the chain must be ready to go ahead and agree a completion date with their lawyers in advance.

Please note that we will need to contact you on the day of exchange of contracts to have your up to date authority to exchange.

Mortgage

If you are taking out a mortgage on your property we will usually act for the mortgage lender in addition to yourself. We will report to your lender prior to your purchase and secure the release of funds. It is important that when you are looking at completion dates we have a minimum of 5 clear days notice to draw down your mortgage funds, without which you will not be able to complete.

You will need to sign a mortgage deed. We will explain this to you prior to completion.

Searches

There are a number of standard searches that we would advise you to undertake prior to the purchase of your property. If you are a cash buyer you have the option of taking the searches. If you are having a mortgage it is a requirement of the majority of mortgage lenders to undertake searches.

The main searches are:

- Local Authority Search

- Water and Drainage Search

- Environmental Search

Depending on the whereabouts of your property we may recommend other searches including Mining and Chancel searches.

Searches take on average 4 weeks to be returned to us. We will then consider the information in those searches and prepare the property report for you.

The property report will detail not only the results of the searches but also other matters affecting your property and your mortgage. It will tell you whether there are any restrictions on the title as to what you can or cannot do with the property for example you may not be able to carry on a business on your property. It will also tell you any rights that you may have for example to go on your neighbours land to undertake repairs or to access the rear of your property.

All searches will be charged at the costs that we pay for the searches and VAT. The amount of charges will vary depending on authority to authority. We usually anticipate the fees being in the region of £260 - £300 plus VAT.

We are not able to interpret the environmental searches and we may if appropriate recommend that you take advice from a surveyor or other suitably qualified person.

Information provided by the seller

The seller will provide information in a standard form with regards to the property. This will include information with regard to both the property itself and the contents and fixtures and fittings. We will ask to see copies of any consents, warranties or guarantees that affect the property. We will of course check that the seller owns the property.

Please note that we do not visit the property. It will be your responsibility to ensure that the plan that is provided will reflect the boundaries and shows the entire property that you believe that you are buying.

Once we have the searches and the information from your seller we will raise any questions that we think are appropriate, in consultation with you.

Completion

The completion date is the day that the property becomes your property. Any monies payable will change hands via your solicitors. We will already have your mortgage funds the previous day in the majority of cases. We would have asked you in advance to provide any monies that we need from you to enable us to complete.

The keys are usually left with estate agents. The estate agents will not release the keys to you until your seller’s solicitor has confirmed to them that the funds have been received.

We need to complete the Stamp Duty Land Tax return. You would have been asked to sign a copy of the SDLT form in advance. This must be sent to HMRC with any tax payable.

Once we have confirmation from HM Land Registry that the property has been transferred into your name we will let you have a copy of the title documents together with any guarantees or warranties that we hold.

We would suggest that you register your interest with the Land Registry property alert service. This will notify you if anybody attempts to deal fraudulently with your property. The Land Registry do not charge for that service.

Sale – The Process

Prior to exchange of contracts

When your property goes on the market for sale you will need to give the estate agents our details. They will then send our details on to your buyers solicitors when a buyer is found. We will check that you have good title to the property and we will then prepare a draft contract to forward to the buyers solicitors.

You will need to complete property information forms and fixtures and fittings list to give the buyers some additional information with regards to your property and the contents and fixtures of the same.

You will need to let us have any guarantees warranties and other documentation in connection with your property.

Your buyers solicitors will ask us questions with regard to your property and the results of their searches against your property. We will be able to answer a number of these from the documentation that we may hold but we will also need to speak to you with regards to some of those queries.

We will ensure that he contract, which is legally binding once exchanged, contains all of the terms that have been agreed. We will also check that your buyer has the standard 10% deposit and will advise you if this is not the case.

We will look to agree a completion date with you at the earliest opportunity but please bear in mind the buyers will need sufficient time to complete the enquiry process and to ensure that their funds are available. Please do not agree a completion date without discussing this with us.

If your sale is related to a purchase we will ensure that the contracts are exchanged simultaneously so that you are legally committed to both buy and sell a property on the same date. You can break the chain if you are willing to sell your property and move in to temporary accommodation whilst you are awaiting exchange on your purchase.

We appreciate it is frustrating when you are in a chain of sales and purchases that all have to be synchronised. Your sale (and/or purchase) can only be as quick as the slowest transaction in the chain.

Please note that we will need to contact you on the day of exchange of contracts to have your up to date authority.

Prior to completion we will contact your mortgage lenders to obtain an up to date redemption statement. We will draft a completion statement so that you are aware of the full costs and disbursements in advance and you will know how much money, if any, is to be returned to you or put towards your ongoing purchase.

Completion

Completion is the day that your property is no longer your property. We will send the transfer to the buyers solicitor for them to register at the Land Registry. You will have made arrangements to leave your keys with your agents. We will only authorise release of the keys when we are in receipt of funds.

Anti-Money Laundering

We are obliged in all cases to comply with our duties and the Proceeds of Crime legislation. This means that we need to see where your money is coming from if you are not having a mortgage or if you are paying a deposit towards the purchase. You will need to tell us whether the money is from you or a third party. We may need to report payments from a third party to any mortgage lenders. We will ask to see bank statements and will ask further information in connection with any monies being used towards your purchase.

We cannot make any exceptions and we cannot complete on any matter where we are not satisfied with the information that we have.

Please note if you are receiving money as a gift or a loan we may need to raise an additional charge in connection with dealing with the same. We will advise you in advance of that charge should it become payable.

Fees

In the vast majority of cases we are able to offer a fixed fee to cover all the work in connection with your property purchase. We will provide you with a quote at the beginning of your transaction. This will only vary if there is a change in the work that we need to undertake on your behalf for example if you believe you are buying a freehold property that then turns out to be a leasehold property or if you need additional insurance policies. Again you will be advised of any change or any additional work that needs to be undertaken in advance.

As a guide if you are buying freehold property up to £150,000 our costs will be a fixed fee of £525 pus VAT. Please see our schedule of charges below. Please note that any insurance policies will be quoted individually dependant on the need.

Please feel free to contact any of the team if you have any queries with regard to the process or the fees.

We hope that this information has been of some assistance to you and we are more than happy to discuss any queries you may have.SCALE FEES AUGUST 2021

RESIDENTIAL SALES AND CONVEYANCING

 

BAND

FEE (EXCLUDING VAT)

VAT

UP TO £150,000

 

£525.00

£105.00

£150,001-£250,000

 

£575.00

£115.00

£251,000-£399,000

 

£700.00

£140.00

£400,000-£549,000

 

£800.00

£160.00

£550,000 + £800,000

 

£925.00

£185.00

OVER £800,000

 

£1100.00

£220.00

 

 

 

SUPPLEMENT

 

FEE (EXCLUDING VAT)

VAT

LEASEHOLD FEE (SALE)

 

£150.00

£30.00

LEASEHOLD FEE (PURCHASE)

 

£250.00

£50.00

UNREGISTERED LAND FEE

 

£200.00

£40.00

COMPLETION EXPENSES- (TELEGRAPHIC TRANSFER OF MONIES PER TRANSACTION)

 

£40.00

£8.00

SDLT FORM COMPLETION FEE

 

£40.00

£8.00

 

 

 

OTHER AREAS OF WORK

 

FEE (EXCLUDING VAT)

VAT

TRANSFER OF EQUITY

(OUTGOING AND RETAINING)

 

£500.00

£100.00

TRANSFER OF EQUITY AND REMORTGAGE

 

£700.00

£140.00

STAND ALONE REMORTGAGE

 

£500.00

£100.00

AUCTION PACK

 

INDIVIDUAL QUOTE

 

VOLUNTARY FIRST REGISTRATION – (WHERE FULL TITLE IS AVAILABLE)

 

£500.00

£100.00

VOLUNTARY FIRST REGISTRATION – (WHERE FULL TITLE IS NOT AVAILABLE)

 

 

HOURLY RATE

 

ID1

 

£125.00

£25.00

ELECTRONIC IDENTIFICATION VERIFICATION

£10.00

£2.00

 

Hourly Rate - Conveyancing

Director: £220.00

Assistant Director: £180.00

Senior Solicitor: £200.00

Assistant Solicitor: £180.00

Trainee Solicitor: £150.00

Paralegal: £150.00