Most probate solicitors charge between 1 to 5% of the value of the estate, plus value-added tax (VAT). However, others charge using other approaches. Below is a breakdown of all the approaches – how they work and the factors influencing them.
How Do Solicitors Charge for Probate?
1. Percentage of the Estate Value
Probate solicitors who charge based on percentage take within 1 to 5% of the estate’s total value, plus an extra 20% for VAT. In the case of an estate valued at £450,000, the solicitor’s fee without VAT will be between £4,500 and £22,500. After adding 20% VAT, the final cost will increase to £5,400 and £27,000.
2. Hourly Rate
Besides charging a percentage of the estate value, a solicitor can also make quotes using an hourly rate. In most cases, solicitors use this approach when the estate is complex or unknown. Like the percentage method, hourly rates attract an additional 20% charge for VAT. In addition, there could be extra costs to cover for disbursements.
Averagely, solicitors charge £250 per hour. However, this value might be slightly more or less depending on the experience of the professional handling your probate process.
3. Combination of Percentage and Hourly Charge
Some solicitors quote for probate using both a percentage of the estate value and an hourly rate. A percentage fee is used for all well-defined and known estates, while an hourly rate is included for other complex and unknown estates.
4. Fixed Fee
Provided there is sufficient information about the estate, probate solicitors can estimate the amount of work required from start to finish and charge a fixed fee for their service. The fixed fee will include VAT and disbursement costs. A fixed fee, however, may be subject to revision later after receiving further information about the estate.
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Factors Influencing How Much Solicitors Charge for Probate
For the four approaches above, below are a few factors that often influence how much solicitors charge.
1. Probate Services Undertaken
The probate services undertaken by a solicitor significantly affect how high or low his probate fees will be. Hiring a solicitor to obtain only a grant of probate/letters of administration will cost much less than engaging him to obtain the grant and administer the estate.
2. Experience/Level of the Solicitor
The more experienced the solicitor you engage for the probate process, the higher fee (percentage, hourly, or fixed). You can obtain quotes from a few solicitors and find the average charge. If the estate is complex, going with the lowest bidder may not be advisable.
3. Nature of the Estate
How complex is the estate? A solicitor’s probate fee is often lower if there is one beneficiary and a single bank account. On the other hand, complex situations involving many properties, bank accounts and beneficiaries generally attract higher costs.
4. Third-party Costs
Probate solicitors charge other additional fees, which are otherwise called disbursement costs. Disbursement costs may include any of the items below:
- Extra valuation cost (if there is a re-value and need to sell off assets during the probate process).
- Probate application fee
- Swearing of oath
- Post in newspapers to prevent unexpected claims, etc.
Solicitors have different rates for these items. So, you need to check with the solicitor handling your probate.
Most solicitors charge a percentage (1 – 5%) of the deceased’s estate value for probate. Some have an hourly rate, while others charge fixed fees. Regardless of the approach, the fee depends on the probate services undertaken, the solicitor’s experience, the nature of the estate and the disbursement required. To avoid unnecessary fee revisions, ensure you provide sufficient information about the estate while negotiating with your probate solicitor.