Wills, LPAs and Probate
With the only things certain in life being death and taxes, it’s a fair bet that at some point you’ll have to deal with the distressing loss of a loved one and the sometimes-bewildering legal processes involved in administering their Will and Estate.
It’s also something you should think about during your own lifetime; what will happen to your assets when you pass away, and how will they be handled by your loved ones?
The support and guidance of a Private Client lawyer can be invaluable in putting your planning in place or enacting the instructions of a loved one after their death – however straightforward or complex their estate might be.
The Private Client team at HMG is our largest specialist department, helping families in Oxfordshire for almost 200 years. A knowledgeable, friendly team of experts, including Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) qualified practitioners, we offer plain-talking advice on everything from Wills to complex multi-jurisdictional estate management, contentious Probate to establishing Powers of Attorney.
As lawyers we understand that no two estates are the same, and will require differing levels of assistance (and a tiered pricing structure to reflect this). As human beings we also know how devastating a time this can be for a family. Our calm, discrete and sympathetic team will translate the jargon and guide you through all the legal hoops, providing individual advice tailored to your specific needs and circumstances – as well as an arm around the shoulder if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Information on our Services
Wills and Intestacy
One of the most common services we offer is advice on, drafting and signing of a Will for people who wish to plan for the future. Our Wills and Probate team is able to help you draft your Will according to your exact wishes while giving advice for specific inheritance tax or general tax planning issues as well.
We are also able to assist when someone close to you did not make a Will and died creating an intestacy. While potentially problematic, HMG Law is able to provide expert advice and guidance on any issues encountered during an intestacy and help alleviate the burden of managing someone’s affairs alone.
Probate and Estate Administration
The loss of a loved one is an emotional and difficult time. While you want to ensure that their wishes are carried out there is no doubt that complex estate administration is possibly the last thing you really want to have to tackle. Our Wills and Probate team are able to take on this responsibility for you.
As highly experienced and STEP qualified specialists, we are able to ensure that all the wishes outlined within a loved one’s Will are carried out correctly, as well as assisting with the probate procedure and guiding you through the complicated tax implications of estate administration.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)
It is important that you ensure that your affairs are well taken care of, and making a Lasting Power of Attorney is an excellent way of taking that weight off your shoulders. If you plan in advance you can ensure that if you lose capacity during your lifetime, your close relatives do not have to go through the time and expense of making applications to the Court of Protection.
Our Wills and Probate team is able to assist you with the creation of your Lasting Powers of Attorney, making the process as streamlined and simple as possible. Beyond this, we are also able to assist with existing Enduring Powers of Attorney, as well as supporting attorneys through the sometimes difficult process of managing someone’s affairs.
Pricing - probate
We understand that not every estate is the same and that not all families will require the same amount of assistance. As such, we have developed a tiered pricing structure that sets out our estimated charges for estates of varying complexity.
Please note that the prices below are shown exclusive of VAT and disbursements. There are estimates and are subject to increase if additional time is required due to unforeseen factors such as missing parties (executors or beneficiaries) or information and documentation. Where assets are abroad, please speak to a member of our team to confirm the fee estimate.
£2,500 +VAT (fixed fee)
Our new Probate-Only service will guide you through the process of completing an IHT205 inheritance tax return and applying for a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration. This is suitable for those who already have the information required for the application but need assistance in preparing the legal paperwork.
Once the Grant of Probate has been issued, you will be able to finalise the estate at your own pace. We are, of course, always on hand to support you after the Grant has been obtained should you require.
Likely disbursements include:
Probate court fee: £273 + £1.50 per copy Grant
Swearing the oath (per executor) £5 + £2 per exhibit
Where matters are more complicated, we offer a comprehensive legal package designed to support you throughout.
TIER 1: STRAIGHTFORWARD ESTATES
Up to £9,000 + VAT (based on hourly rates)
Our Tier 1 estate package is suitable for simple estate administration, typically where there is no inheritance tax to pay but you would like us to provide more support in gathering information and dealing with assets once a Grant has been obtained.
A typical Tier 1 estate would be one where the deceased left a valid Will, which appoints executors and may make some cash gifts or gifts of items, with the rest being left to more than five beneficiaries. It will also be suitable for estates where the deceased died without making a Will but there are suitable family members able and willing to act in the administration and the estate beneficiaries are known and over 18. The estate would consist of a small number of bank accounts or managed investments and personal possessions. This would not be suitable for an estate which includes a property.
We will assist in assessing the date of death values for the assets and liabilities of the deceased and using this information to compile the short form inheritance tax return (IHT205). We will also assist in claiming a transferable nil rate band where appropriate.
Once this has been completed, we will prepare the Oath of the Executors/Administrators and submit your application to the Probate Registry.
Following receipt of the Grant, we will gather in the assets, settle any outstanding debts, deal with informal income tax and capital gains tax, and distribute the assets in accordance with the Will or the Intestacy Rules.
Throughout the matter we will keep Estate Accounts which can be provided to you on request.
Likely disbursements will be the same as our Probate-Only service but also include the following:
Bankruptcy searches (per beneficiary): £2
Trustee Act notices in London Gazette and local newspaper: £250 (est.)
TIER 2: MORE COMPLICATED ESTATES
£9,000 to £20,000 + VAT (based on hourly rates)
Our Tier 2 estate package is suitable for estates that are more complex, and where there is inheritance tax to pay.
We would expect a Tier 2 estate to consist of a property, multiple bank accounts, shareholdings and investments, or where there are more valuable possessions. It will also be suitable where the Will itself is more complicated or the application of the Intestacy Rules is more complicated, or where there are trusts involved.
This service includes everything shown in Tier 1 but also the preparation of a long form inheritance tax return and associated schedules (IHT400). We will prepare a calculation and application for claiming a transferable nil rate band and residence nil rate bands. The service includes organising payment of inheritance tax and correspondence with HM Revenue and Customs, and obtaining inheritance tax clearance.
We will also deal with more complicated income tax and capital tax reporting where a formal return is required.
Likely disbursements are as per Tier 1 and:
Land Registry fees: £6
Where supplementary work is required, such as arranging a funeral, tracing missing beneficiaries, visiting the deceased’s property and organising maintenance where needed, this falls outside the remit of Tier 1 and Tier 2 and will be charged at hourly rates.
TIER 3: LARGE AND COMPLEX ESTATES
From £20,000 + VAT (based on hourly rates)
Our Tier 3 estate package is ideal for large estates which are highly complex and require specialist technical tax or trust knowledge to complete.
This service includes everything shown in Tiers 1 and 2, and would be suitable for estates where there are domicile issues, business or agricultural interests, substantial shareholdings or multiple properties. There may also be complex trust matters to consider, or issues concerning the assets in the estate or the validity of the Will.
It is also suitable for estates where there are complicated inheritance tax calculations or claims to be made for inheritance tax reliefs such as business property relief, agricultural property relief, assets conditionally exempt from inheritance tax and assets offered in lieu of paying inheritance tax. It would also include estates where there are gifts made during the deceased’s lifetime which need to be reported to HM Revenue and Customs.
We would be able to assist with making funeral arrangements, visiting the deceased’s property and organising maintenance of the same, and tracing missing beneficiaries or missing documents. We would also assist with the preparation of ancillary documents to the estate administration such as a Deed of Variation or a Deed of Appointment.
We would also assist with the preparation of formal tax return, including reporting on income and gains for trusts arising out of the estate. This Tier would also include finalising the deceased’s income tax affairs to the date of death.
Likes disbursements are as per Tier 2 and you will also be advised if any additional disbursements are likely to arise in your particular circumstances.