Wills Trusts & Probate

Handling your personal affairs in a sensitive and efficient way

Securing your home, health and belongings is one of the key things that you can do to protect you and your loved ones, at whatever stage you may be in life. Our specialist wills and probate team have decades of experience helping clients put their affairs in order and put their minds at rest.
We work with people who are often at a difficult period in their lives; we always endeavor to handle their personal affairs in a sensitive, but efficient way, providing clear, concise and practical advice at all times.

We have experienced solicitors and paralegals covering our 4 offices so we are well-placed to advise and then draft any will to suit your specific requirements.  We can advise you regarding protecting your assets with regards to potential care home fees or for a family member who maybe registered disabled and eligible for means tested benefits.  

Another scenario we deal with more often is how to protect all parties when you have children from previous relationships and a new partner and/or family.

We offer clients free will storage.

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

We have a specialist Court of Protection Department with solicitors who deal with 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.

Dealing with the affairs of someone who has died is often a difficult and emotional task.  Administering an estate can take considerable time and engage complex legal and emotional issues.  As an executor or personal representative it is your responsibility to ensure the estate is properly administered failing which you can become personally liable for any losses suffered by the beneficiaries.

As with every individual, each estate to be administered is unique.  The amount of work required depends on factors such as whether or not there is a Will, the number, nature and location of assets and liabilities and also the number and location of beneficiaries.  Other factors include whether there are any foreign/business or agricultural assets; is the estate taxable or tax exempt based on exemptions available.  

If the deceased made lifetime gifts, was a beneficiary of any trust fund or set up a trust fund it may well impact the probate and inheritance tax application.

With our highly experienced team we are well-placed to deal with both complex and straightforward estate administration. 

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 both property and finance and health and welfare 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 registered LPAs.

We at Davies and Partners Solicitors can offer a full administration service or provide as much or as little help as you need.  For example you maybe quite happy to collect all the information required in 1(a) below and ask us to prepare the application for the grant.  Alternatively you may decide to instruct our team to assist you with the entire process.  We are happy to discuss and accommodate your specific needs.

Applying for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration

1 Excepted estate (valued at under £325,000) where you provide us with the information required to prepare application – £1500 plus VAT

(a) We will explain to you what information we need from you in order to prepare the application.  We will then prepare the application for your approval and signature before submitting to the court. We will deal with any queries the court may have and once the grant is received we will send onto you to allow you to administer the estate.

(b) Alternatively, if you want, we can administer the estate on your behalf based on our hourly rate in force at the time.

2 Excepted estate (valued at under £325,000) as above but with extras – £2500 plus VAT 

(a) As 1 (a) 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 and liabilities (if required) based upon which the application to the court will be prepared.  

(b) Again once we have the grant we can send to you if you wish to administer the estate yourself or act on your behalf based on our hourly rate in force at the time.

3 Excepted estate (valued at under £650,000 but has benefit of transferrable nil rate band or residence nil rate band) £3,500 to £4,500 plus VAT

(a) As 1 (a) above but to include advising you on availability of tax exemptions available (if a spouse has predeceased or property ownership) and preparing appropriate documentation on your behalf – £3,500 plus VAT

(b) As 2 (a) above but to also include making contact with up to 5 financial institutions/estate agents/surveyors etc to obtain date of death valuations for the assets and liabilities of the estate before preparing a schedule of assets and liabilities (if required) based upon which the application to the court will be prepared.  – £4,500 plus VAT

(c) If you want, on receipt of the grant we can then administer the estate on your behalf based on our hourly rate in force at the time.  Alternatively we will send you the grant and you can then administer the estate

4 Estate worth under £1 million but no tax to pay due to spouse/charity exemption – from £4000 plus VAT 

(a) As 1 (a) above our fixed fee for the application will be £4,000 plus VAT

(b) If contact is made with third parties pre application our fees will be based upon an hourly rate in addition to the £4,000 plus VAT mentioned in 4 (a)

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

together with a reduced hourly rate of £190 plus vat per hour

If the estate is worth more than £1 million

1.5% of the first million

0.75% of the balance

together with a reduced hourly rate of £190 plus vat per hour

Fees will 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 forms 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 for probate registry; submitting probate forms to Probate Registry and settling court fee;

Inheritance tax 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 the hourly rates in force at that time (depending upon the fee earner who is responsible for the matter).

6 Specialist grants

As 1-5 above together (where appropriate) together with an hourly rate ranging from £250-£275 plus VAT per hour (price depends on size of estate and complexity/nature of application and fee earner responsible for the matter);

Other costs and disbursements not limited to the following

Probate Court fee – £273 plus £1.50 per sealed copy grant

Bankruptcy search fees at £2 per person (for the personal representatives and beneficiaries if we are dealing with the administration of the estate)

Land registry search fees of £3 per title

Notice inviting creditors to come forward (not always necessary) from £95

Unknown assets search from £25

Our first invoice is submitted when the probate application is completed for client to sign

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.

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.

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