Wills Trusts & Probate

Handling personal affairs in a sensitive and efficient way

Our team work with people who are often at a difficult period in their lives; we always endeavour to handle their personal affairs in a sensitive, but efficient way, providing clear, concise and practical advice at all times. We will guide you through all the legal processes ensuring you get your affairs in order and leave our office with complete peace of mind.

Coronavirus update:

At this time of sweeping uncertainty, we at Davies and Partners are all taking the necessary steps to protect one another from the spread of covid19 while at the same time trying our best to ensure no one is turned away if they need our help and guidance in relation to wills, lasting powers of attorney and the administration of estates.

Whilst face to face meetings may not always be possible due to social distancing measures our solicitors will continue to assist current and new clients using technology (such as telephone, skype etc). For very limited purposes (such as signing your will) we are prepared to meet clients in person by prior appointment however we will need to agree with you beforehand the safeguards that will need to be followed at the meeting

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to make contact with our private client department on 01454 807952 and a solicitor or legal assistant will make contact with you within 24 hours (usually on the same day)

We have two experienced solicitors, both of whom are Step qualified, supported by a paralegal and we are well-placed to write any will to suit your specific requirements. We regularly prepare straightforward wills, life interest wills and discretionary trust wills and advise on capital tax planning. We also offer clients free will storage.

We can advise on both lifetime and post-death inheritance tax planning and achieve significant tax savings. We can also deal with preparation of Deeds of Variation and, where necessary, registration of the same with HMRC.

We act in the creation of Deputyships and advise clients on Court of Protection applications, court procedure and submission of deputy reports to the Office of the Public Guardian. 

We advise clients both on the creation of lifetime and will trusts and ongoing trust administration and compliance issues. We also provide advice on tax trust issues and filing of trust tax returns. If you are looking to wind up a trust then we can provide advice on how to do that and settle any tax liabilities.

Only EPAs made and signed before 1 October 2007 can still be used. After that date donors have to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). However, if a valid EPA has been created then we can assist with advising the attorneys on the administration of that attorneyship and registration of the EPA once the attorneys have reason to believe that the donor is losing capacity.

Applying for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration

1. Excepted estate (valued at under £325,000) – £1500 plus VAT

Applying for grant of probate (or letters of administration if there is no will) where the estate is worth less than £325,000 and the estate is an excepted estate (this will be ascertained during first meeting/conversation).

The quote will include initial meeting with STEP qualified solicitor or executive with over 15 years’ experience to discuss and advise process and procedure; explaining what information is required for the application and how to obtain it; preparing the IHT205 and legal statement; submitting documents to Probate Registry with court fee; dealing with any queries raised by Probate Registry; sending original grant and sealed copies to client once received.

Our aim is to take instructions and draft your documents within a 10-day period before submitting to the Court.

2. Excepted estate (valued at under £325,000) – £2000 plus VAT (based on hourly rate of £275 plus VAT)

As 1 above but we will make contact with up to 5 financial institutions/estate agents/surveyors etc to obtain date of death valuations for all the assets and liabilities of the estate before preparing a schedule of assets based on which the IHT205 and legal statemtn will be prepared.

Our aim is to write to all organisations within a week of our initial meeting – responses usually arrive within 2-3 weeks. Once all responses have arrived, we prepare the application for you to approve (usually the same week) and send to the court.

3. Excepted estate (valued at under £650,000 but has benefit of transferrable nil rate band or residence nil rate band) – £2500-£3,000 plus VAT (based on hourly rate of £275 plus VAT)

As 1 above but to include advising clients on availability of percentage tax exemption available based on estate of the first spouse to have died and to include preparing and submitting the relevant IHT forms to probate registry and/or HMRC.

Our aim is to take instructions and draft your documents within a 10-day period before submitting to the Court.

4. Estate worth under £1 million but no tax to pay due to spouse/charity exemption – from £3500 plus VAT (based on hourly rate of £275 plus VAT)

As 1 above and will depend on size/complexity of estate (and whether contact needs to be made with third parties)
Our aim is to take instructions and draft your documents within a 10-day period before submitting to HMRC (and then the court subject to their timescales)

5. Taxable estate with or without exemptions or non taxable estate worth over £1 million

If the estate is worth less than £1 million
1% of the gross value of the estate (not including residence)
0.5% of the gross value of the residence
together with a reduced hourly rate of £175 plus vat per hour

If the estate is worth more than £1 million

1.5% of the first million
0.5% of the balancw
together with a reduced hourly rate of £175 plus vat per hour

Fees will include as 1 above but include detailed verbal and written advice as to process and procedure; making contact with financial institutions including creditors; preparing schedule of assets and liabilities; the preparation of detailed inheritance tax form and ancillary documents; obtaining inheritance reference from HMRC; settling tax due whether from deceased’s own accounts or obtaining external loan for executors; submitting tax forms to revenue and obtaining stamped IHT421; submitting probate forms to Probate Registry with stamped IHT421 and settling court fee;

Inheritance must be paid by the end of the sixth month after the person has died else the estate will be liable to penalties and interest. We aim to get the application to HMRC and the court well within this timescale, but it all depends on third party responses and speed at which clients respond to queries. The Court will not issue the grant until they have evidence from the Revenue that tax has been paid.

If any of the above fixed fee applications require extra time spent on extra issues such as retirement of executor/power reserved/attorney grants our fee will increase based on an hourly rate of £275 plus VAT per hour. They may also include a document settling fee of £10 per document settled.

6. Specialist grants

Based on hourly rate of £275 plus VAT per hour (price depends on size of estate and complexity/nature of application);

All the above also include the following disbursements: –

• Probate Court fee – £155 plus £0.50 per sealed copy probate
• Swear fee of £5 plus £2 per document attached to oath/statutory declaration
• Bankruptcy search fees at £2 per person (for the personal representatives and beneficiaries if we are dealing with the administration of the estate )

Our first invoice is submitted when the probate application is sent to client for signature

On receipt of the grant if clients want the firm to administer the estate on their behalf we charge an hourly rate of £275 plus VAT and time spent will vary according to the number of assets, liabilities, beneficiaries with whom we need to make contact.

For example, if an estate consists of 2 bank accounts, one property, one shareholding which is to be sold (and we have the correct share certificate) and there are 4 beneficiaries time spent once probate is received (if no other complications) will be between 5-9 hours. This will include preparing estate accounts for approval, preparing income tax calculation for the administration period and making distributions to beneficiaries (possibly interim as well as final).

We always aim to finalise the administration of an estate within the “executor’s year” however external factors affect this timescale. For example, if a property has not sold, the revenue has not given clearance for inheritance or income tax or the DWP has made a claim against the estate. In those circumstances we cannot finalise and distribute the estate but we will always keep you updated as to progress.

Subject to approval by the personal representatives, other disbursements may include:

• Statutory notices (optional) approximately £90-£230
• Unknown assets search £25

If there is a property in the estate which needs to be sold or transferred there will be conveyancing costs and land registry fees. If there is a trust in the Will in relation to the property, the trustees’ details will need to be included on deeds and this will also incur conveyancing and land registry fees (based on value of the property and whether the property is registered or unregistered).

If there are shares in the estate which are to be sold the registrars or stockbrokers will charge a commission for this service. If original share certificates cannot be located an indemnity will have to be purchased from the registrars and a fee paid (approximately £100) before the personal representatives can proceed with the sale or transfer of the shares.

If the deceased was receiving means tested benefits during his/her lifetime the DWP usually request a list of assets and liabilities as of date of death to compare with the information they hold on file. If there are discrepancies, they will open an investigation and we will be unable to distribute the estate until final clearance is received from the DWP. On average the DWP take 8-12 months to finalise their investigations and any payment due to them takes priority to beneficiaries.

With a very experienced team we are well-placed to deal with both complex and straightforward estate administration. We also deal with associated inheritance tax returns and negotiations with HMRC and the District Valuer regarding valuation of assets.

This is one of the fastest growing areas of our private client practice. We act on behalf of claimants and respondents in contentious probate matters and can guide you through the court process and the issue and defending of court proceedings and 1975 Act claims. The probate team work on these cases in conjunction with Simon Pressdee in our dispute resolution department.

The current threshold for care fees is £23,250. If you have assets which are above that figure then you are going to be primarily liable for your care fees. We can advise you on steps you can take to mitigate your care fee liability and what you can or cannot do to shelter your home from liability for care fees.

We deal with the creation of LPAs and advise attorneys on the administration of their attorneyship and the ambit of the attorney’s powers. We also deal with the registration of LPAs at the Office of the Public Guardian and also offer clients free storage of their LPAs.

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