Wills & Probate
Writing a Will is a vitally important task that everyone should undertake. It ensures that your wishes about what happens to your money, possessions, and property, are carried out after your death. At David Lee we ensure that your affairs are all legal and correct.
- Writing a Will
Putting a plan in place to look after your loved ones in the worse case scenario is something you should not put off.
Dying without a valid Will in place is called dying “intestate” – meaning the Courts can decide who benefits from your estate. This may not be as you intended. As you can imagine, this can cause serious problems and can cause unintended legal, financial, and emotional distress to your friends and family.
A Will is a legal document, and as such, it requires consultation with a specialist. Any small error in wording is open to interpretation, which can lead to your estate being mismanaged or even declared invalid.
We can help you to avoid these errors, and advise you on the entire process, such as deciding how to divide your estate between multiple beneficiaries and appointing a suitable executor.
- Contested probate
A contested probate can be a very distressing process for grieving family, friends and executors. When a person (a “testator”) dies then their property is distributed by their executors, who are named in the Will.
However, a number of problems can arise, such as whether the person was of sound mind or whether they wrote their Will correctly.
If a Will is rendered invalid for these or any other reason, the Courts can decide how the estate is divided and the people you hope to benefit may receive nothing.
These, and many other problems, can be resolved with the help of an experienced solicitor.
When a person dies intestate, or family members believe the Will is questionable (such as in the case of a person who is not of sound mind, or unduly influenced by a third party) it is possible to contest it. We can help you to decide on the appropriate course of action, and represent you throughout.
- Will storage
We can store your Will securely and safely. You can imagine the difficulty when, after someone has passed away, their Will is found to have been rendered un-readable through water damage, or has been lost. In these instances, problems can arise. You can avoid those by asking us to look after your Will. It is accessible only by you or your executor, on proof of identity.
People who store their Wills with us not only receive peace of mind, they also receive the following:
- A photocopy of their Will, to keep with their important papers.
- A Digital copy held on our secure servers.
- A Notice confirming that David Lee Solicitors hold the original Will.
- Free storage of the Will in a secure, temperature and humidity controlled environment.
- Lasting Powers of Attorney
Lasting Powers of Attorney are documents that allow a representative (an attorney) to be appointed in the case of someone losing capacity to deal with their own affairs.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney: one to deal with financial decisions; and one to deal with health and welfare issues. If it is felt appropriate, different attorneys can be appointed to deal with these different aspects.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are regulated by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Attorneys need to be aware of the principles laid down in that Act when taking decisions.
If a person loses capacity but does not have a Lasting Power of Attorney, an application will need to be made to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order, which is a more complicated and time-consuming process. It also means that the person has no choice over who is appointed to act for them.
We can offer advice on the creation of Lasting Powers of Attorney and the duties and responsibilities of Attorneys. We can also assist with the preparation of the documents and registration of the Lasting Power of Attorney with the Office of the Public Guardian (this has to be completed before the Lasting Power of Attorney is valid).
- Applying for Probate
Every estate is different, and the exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter and the work that is carried out. Our charges are generally based on the amount of time spent dealing with the matter which includes time spent in meetings (with you and perhaps others), considering, preparing and working on papers, correspondence, making and receiving telephone calls.
The main fee earner (this can be a Solicitor, Legal Executive or Paralegal) working on the matter will be supervised by David Lee.
The hourly charge out rate will vary depending on which member of staff is carrying out work on your matter and range from £66 plus vat per hour to £228 plus vat per hour.
We can deal with the whole process for you which may include the following:
- Obtaining details of the assets and liabilities at the date of death
- Obtaining formal valuations of properties, shares and other assets
- Preparing income tax returns to the date of death and for the period of the administration
- Preparing the inheritance tax return
- Dealing with the payment of any inheritance tax due
- Preparing the oath for you as the personal representatives to swear
- Obtaining the Grant of Representation
- Collecting the cash balances from banks and building societies
- Paying debts and the costs of the administration
- Paying the cash legacies to the beneficiaries under the will
- Transferring properties
- Selling or transferring shares or other assets to the beneficiaries under the will
- Preparing estate accounts
- Making the final distribution to the appropriate beneficiaries
In a straightforward estate, we would expect our charges to be in the region of 1% – 2% of the gross estate for inheritance tax purposes. In some estates, complications arise which are outside our control which mean that our fees will be higher. This may due to protracted negotiations with HM Revenue & Customs, the estate containing foreign assets, or as a result of a family dispute. We would endeavour to let you know if any particular circumstances arise which will lead to an increase in our charges.
If we are instructed to only deal with part of the estate administration process, such as assisting in the application for the Grant of Representation our charges may be towards the lower end of the range. In all cases, there is a minimum charge of £1,500 plus vat and if the value of the actual time recorded at the applicable hourly rate exceeds £1,500 plus vat then that higher amount plus vat will be charged. We will give an indication at the outset as to whether or not we are likely to exceed the minimum charge.
The above charges will not include the following:
- Advising in detail on inheritance tax and/or capital gains tax planning for the beneficiaries and/or deeds of variation
- Acting in the sale of the house or other property as we do not offer conveyancing services
- Arranging for the first registration of property (if applicable)
- Acting in any litigation that arises or in respect of any claims against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
Any work outside of the ordinary administration of the estate will be charged for separately and may include a combination of fixed fees and hourly rates.
We will provide you with an estimate of our charges when the additional work is being assessed.
In addition to our fees, disbursements will be incurred which are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. Disbursements may include:
- Probate application fee of £155 plus £0.50 for each office copy required.
- Statutory advertisement fee which protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors. These may cost between £150 and £200 inc VAT
- Land Registry fee to obtain title information at £3.00.
- Swear Fees – £10.00 plus £5.00 for each additional page
Please see our Useful Resources Page for the link to the Government website for Wills, probate and Inheritance
- Small Estates
Fixed fee service for smaller estates:
Our fixed fee grant only service is designed for executors / administrators who have the time to deal with the estate administration and it is suitable for you if:
- You are familiar with the process of administering estates
- The estate has a limited number of assets and the deceased’s bank or other financial institution have told you that a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration is required before you can close the deceased’s accounts
This service will include:
- Completion of HM Revenue & Customs Return of Estate Information form IHT205 (based on the information you provide)
- Preparing the Statement of Trust for Executors / Administrators
- Submission of the Grant of Probate / Letters of Administration application to the Probate Court
- Advice on any queries raised by the Probate Court
- Obtaining of the grant bearing the Court seal ready for you to use
Our Grant only fees are:
- Fixed at £695.00 plus VAT (if form IHT205 is submitted) together with the Probate Court fees
- Fixed at £1,200.00 plus VAT (if form IHT400 is submitted) together with the Probate Court fees
At David Lee Solicitors, we are only ever a phone call or an email away. If you want to make an enquiry concerning potential legal representation, please use the contact form on this site. Alternatively, if you would rather speak to someone in person, you can call us on 01926 852 188Contact Form