DIY Will and Probate
If the Estate is straightforward, you may not need to use a probate provider to obtain Probate. Here at Final Duties we offer a halfway house option where we obtain the Grant of Probate for you then leave you to deal with the distribution of the Estate yourself.
About 29% of executors decide to deal with Probate themselves in order to reduce fees. You should, however, be aware that the work will be quite time consuming and that you will be legally liable for any mistakes that are made. Some people also find it upsetting to have to keep going through the papers of someone they knew and loved. This is why 71% of people decide to seek help from a professional.
Get more than one Quotation
Probate fees vary hugely between probate providers. This is because there are multiple charging structures that are used. Most commonly hourly rates, percentages or a fixed fee. Some options are more cost-effective than others. Even between providers using the same charging structure, there will be dramatically varying costs. That’s why it’s important to get more than 1 quotation and understand what the average going rate is for solicitors fees for probate.
There are also different types of probate services, most commonly solicitors or probate providers will offer a full estate administration. This is where the solicitor handles everything from start to finish, including applying for probate. Alternatively, there are services that just assist the executor with obtaining the grant of probate or letters of administration but not with the collection of information or distribution of the estate. Choosing a grant only service can appear to be a good way to reduce probate fees as they often are much less expensive than a full administration. However, it leaves a lot more of the work and responsibility with the executor. It’s important to understand how much you will be taking on if you choose this option.
Something to understand as well is that regardless of who is administering the estate the probate process is the same. That means that the differences in the work done between providers will not be vastly different if there is any difference at all. Therefore if you have a solicitor charging £10,000 and another charging £5,000 for the full administration of the estate, the main difference is how they cost their work not the actual work that will be done.
Don’t use the firm that is named in the will as an Executor
Most people believe that they have to use the solicitor, bank or Will writer who is named in the Will as executor. This is not the case. A professional executor can choose to renounce their appointment and most will do so if asked. This is an option worth pursuing if they are unnecessarily charging thousands of pounds for the administration of the estate. Final Duties offer a no win no fee service for customers wanting to ask executors to renounce.
Don’t agree to an hourly Rate
Many probate solicitors and banks charge an hourly rate for administering an Estate. This means that it is impossible to know how much the bill will be until the work has been completed. It also gives them no incentive to finish the work quickly. All of our solicitors work on a fixed price quotation basis.
Avoid Percentage based Charges
Many banks and probate solicitors calculate their fees as a percentage of the Estate. The size of the Estate has little bearing on the amount of work that will be needed to obtain the Grant of Probate and administer the Estate. You should insist on a fixed price probate quotation.
Insist on a Probate Quotation, not an Estimate
An estimate can be increased later. A quotation is fixed and binding. Always insist on a written quotation before you confirm your instructions.
Use an Expert
Probate is a highly specialist area of the law and you need to choose a solicitor or probate specialist who is an expert in this field rather than a general practitioner who will often take longer to complete the work and charge more. You should look for a solicitor that is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.
Protect the Assets of the Estate
Once the assets within the estate are sold the proceeds will be held in a client account. If your probate provider is a qualified solicitor these monies will be fully protected by the solicitor’s compensation fund. If your probate provider is not a qualified solicitor you need to check what arrangements are in place to safeguard their client account or whether you will need to open an executors bank account.
Provide Paperwork Promptly
Probate cases often drag on because key documents cannot be found. You can help your Probate provider to help you by providing all documentation promptly.
Maximize the Value of the House Sale
The biggest asset in most estates is the deceased’s property. By spending a little money getting it ready for sale and choosing the right estate agent you can often make enough extra money to pay for the entire cost of the probate fees.