Wills, Inheritance Planning and Estate Administration

At Alun Thomas & John, we recognise that many people put off making a will because they think it difficult, costly or an unpleasant reminder of death. In fact, it can be just the opposite. Our clients have found that making a will has been simple and inexpensive and that it brings peace of mind. Our wills department offers a speedy and straightforward service. We are able to see clients at our office or at their home.

Sometimes people think that only the wealthy need to make a will. This is not so. Anyone who cares about his or her family affairs, should make a will. Those with children can use a will to appoint guardians. Those with an estate valued at £325,000 or more can save their loved ones inheritance tax by making a will.

The consequences of failing to make a will can be serious because the law lays down how an estate is to be distributed in such circumstances and this may not be in keeping with your wishes or it may not meet the needs of members of your family.

Wills and Probate

When someone dies, dealing with the administration of their estate can be the last thing those close to them wish to deal with. We are here to help. We can deal with all the steps necessary to obtain a grant of representation and then, if you are the personal representative, leave you to complete the administration of the estate; or we can both obtain the grant and complete the administration of the estate.

(a) assembling details of all assets owned at death and obtaining any necessary valuations;
(b) assembling details of any liabilities due at death and of any funeral expenses;
(c) assessing whether any inheritance tax is payable and dealing with the Capital Taxes Office before the grant of representation can be obtained;
(d) preparing the personal representative’s oath and any necessary Inland Revenue Account in support of an application for the grant of representation;
(e) on receipt of the grant, collecting in the assets and settling any liabilities;
(f) assessing whether any income tax is outstanding or due for repayment, preparing any necessary returns or claims and dealing with the Inland Revenue;
(g) distributing the estate in accordance with law.

On average, straightforward estates are dealt with within 3 – 8 months. Typically, obtaining the grant of probate takes 6 – 8 weeks. Collecting assets then follows, which can take between 4 – 6 weeks. Once this has been done, we can distribute the assets, which normally takes around 4 weeks. However, personal representatives should not distribute the estate until 6 months have elapsed from the grant of probate or they could be held personally liable for any claims brought under the Inheritance (Family Independence) Act 1975. For that reason, where partners in our firm are the personal representatives, we will require this time limit to be observed.

The exact cost for dealing with the administration of an estate will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter. For example, if there is one beneficiary and no property, costs will be at the lower end of the range. If there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, costs will be at the higher end.

Our charges are calculated in accordance with the Solicitors’ (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 1994. This provides for a solicitor’s remuneration for these matters to be such sum as may be fair and reasonable having regard to all the circumstances of the case. The most important factors to be taken into account are the time spent in dealing with the matter and the value of the estate. There are also other factors, such as the complexity and importance of the matter, the skill involved and the need for urgency.

Our charges will normally include both a time element and a value element. We have a computerized time-recording system which records the time spent by our lawyers the file. Each lawyer has an hourly expense rate. The hourly rate of Alun Thomas and Richard John is £200.00. The hourly rate of Lee Thompson and Helen Clow is £150.00.

The value element is 0.75% of the value of the home where the deceased owned it in his or her name alone or 0.5% of the value of the home where the deceased owned it jointly with another person. The value element for the rest of the estate up to £1 million is 1.0%. Reduced percentages apply for larger estates. These fees do not include the sale of a property and a separate estimate can be given for this work.

Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. Typically, they include:

• Probate application fee of approximately £155.00
• £7.00 swearing of the oath (per executor)
• Bankruptcy-only Land Charges Department searches (£2.00 per beneficiary)
• £83.40 Post in The London Gazette – Protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors.
• £172.94 Post in a Local Newspaper – This also helps to protect against unexpected claims.

Should you require further guidance, please feel free to forward your details through our confidential enquiry form or telephone us.