Administration of Estates


Administration of estates

When a family member dies, their estate needs to be wound up (“administered”).

In essence, this involves –

  • identifying the assets and liabilities involved and their values
  • preparing an account of those assets and liabilities for inheritance tax (“IHT”) purposes and submitting this to the Probate Registry with an application for a “grant of representation” – probate (if there is a Will) or “letters of administration” (if there is no Will)
  • paying any IHT that is due
  • on receipt of the grant of representation, collecting in any money due to the estate and paying debts owed by it
  • transferring any non-money assets to whoever is entitled to them
  • paying any legacies
  • winding up tax affairs
  • accounting for the remaining funds in the estate

In the same way that different people have different (and more or less complicated) circumstances, so estates are different (and more or less complicated). As a result, there are some estates where the family is perfectly able to administer the estate themselves, without the involvement of a lawyer at all – the first step is to get an application pack by telephoning the HMRC Probate and Inheritance Tax Helpline on 0300 123 1072 – and other estates where it is better to hand everything over to a specialist lawyer to handle – and most other estates that fall somewhere in between.  The choice depends on the degree of complexity of the estate and also on the personal circumstances and preferences of the person responsible for getting the grant of representation.

We can offer three levels of service from which you can choose what suits you –

1              Incidental advice and assistance as and when you need to, for which we would charge at £200 per hour for time we actually spend working for you

2              Preparing and submitting an application for a grant of representation, with you providing us with the information and documents we ask for, including the appropriate HMRC account of the estate  (completed by you). For this, we charge a fixed fee of £500, and you can also ask us for extra advice and help, chargeable in addition as under item 1

3              A full service, where we prepare and deal with all the paperwork (including the HMRC account of the estate) and obtain full details of the estate on the basis of the initial information and papers you supply, and take you through each step of the process from start to finish. The cost of this will vary from case to case, but will be charged at £200 per hour.  The minimum fee is likely to be £3,000 but, once we have the initial details we need, we can give you a proper estimate and keep that updated as the work progresses, or we can give you a fixed price for the expected work.

As a first step, we recommend a face-to-face meeting to discuss what might be involved in your case.  This would be without charge or obligation – at the end of this, you can decide which (if any) of the levels of service is best for you and, if it is the full service, we will give the best estimate we can of the likely overall cost.

It would be very useful if, before that meeting, you could complete our questionnaire for personal representatives (available from us on request – please phone 01580 767100) and we can help with any difficult points at our meeting