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Probate and Estate Administration

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Probate and Estate Administration

Probate can be a complex and time-consuming procedure, and coming as it does at a very distressing time, it makes sense to entrust the work to a specialist.

Harwood Hutton is licensed to provide probate and estate administration services. We can help with:

  • Calculating and facilitating payment of all relevant taxes within HMRC deadlines
  • Payment of money owing to creditors
  • Collection of debts owed to the deceased; and
  • Distribution of remaining assets from the estate to the relevant beneficiaries.

Helping to mitigate tax
As chartered accountants we have the specialist knowledge required to handle the tax affairs of the deceased. Not only can we steer you through the intricacies of inheritance tax, income tax and capital taxes but our experience may also help you and the beneficiaries to mitigate the amount of tax that needs to be paid from the estate.

Pricing: Introduction
Our charges will depend on the complexity of the matters with which we are asked to assist. Some estates, for example those where no property is involved, are less complex to administer. Those involving multiple beneficiaries, bank accounts and other assets will require more time and will therefore be more expensive.

One thing is certain: you will not be charged a percentage based on the value of the estate, which in the past used to be commonplace.

Please bear in mind that disputes can sometime arise over Wills and the division of assets, and while we are not licenced to undertake contentious probate, any time we spend on helping to resolve these disputes will be chargeable.

Pricing Guide
The following factors will all have an impact on our charges for handling your matter:

  • Validity of Will and likelihood of it being contested
  • Types of assets and their location
  • Number of properties in the estate
  • Number of bank or building society accounts
  • Intangible assets
  • Number and type of beneficiaries
  • Agreement over division of assets
  • Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability and requirement to submit a full account to HMRC
  • Whether gifts have been made by the deceased during their lifetime
  • Claims against the Estate.

Probate Only Service (for Simple Estates)
Harwood Hutton will prepare and submit probate paperwork to the probate office and prepare and submit IHT forms to HMRC. We will charge hourly rates for our services. Once probate is obtained, the grant will be passed to the executors for them to administer the estate in accordance with the Will.

Full Administration Service (for Standard and Complex Estates)
Harwood Hutton will deal with the full administration of the estate and will charge hourly rates for our services. We will:

  • Liaise with the Executors on the day-to-day administration
  • Liaise with third parties on closing accounts
  • Collate funds and secure assets
  • Communicate with creditors
  • Distribute assets and funds to the beneficiaries.

Once probate is granted, we will produce regular invoices for the time spent in dealing with the administration of the estate. Once approved, these invoices will be deducted from the estate’s assets, with nothing for executors to pay from their own pockets.

Tailored Service
This bespoke service can be deployed where the executors of a Simple Estate would prefer Harwood Hutton to undertake some or all of the services ordinarily provided in our Full Administration Service, which is part of the Standard and Complex Estate packages.

It is also available to executors of Standard or Complex Estates who wish to undertake some or all of the services in the Full Administration Service themselves.

Whatever service the executors require will be agreed with you at the outset of our work.

Typical Timeframe
Stage 1: Obtaining the grant of probate – between three and six months

Stage 2: Collecting funds and securing assets – between two and four months

Stage 3: Final clearing stages to distribution – between two and four weeks.

Price Range
Please note the charges set out below assume the Estate is uncontested (not disputed) and all assets are within the UK. They also assume no lifetime gifts have been made by the deceased.

Simple Estate £4,500-£5,500 + VAT

Where the value of the estate is below the £325,000 inheritance tax threshold.

And/or, where the deceased leaves everything above the £325,000 threshold to a spouse, civil partner, a charity or a community amateur sports club.

If there are legacies or gifts to charity, the Standard Estate fee will be charged.

Standard Estate £6,500 to £9,500 + VAT

Where RNRB (Residence Nil Rate Band/s) can be claimed and the remaining value of the estate then falls under the Inheritance Tax threshold (currently £325,000).

We would deal with the application for RNRB and deal with the H M Revenue & Customs on the exemption to inheritance tax.

Complex Estate From £10,000 +VAT

Where IHT is payable.

Although RNRB could still apply, the value of the Estate would still be above the Inheritance Tax threshold. An example of a complex estate would be one with several properties and / or business assets.

IHT thresholds and rates
Everyone has a tax-free inheritance tax allowance of £325,000 – known as the nil-rate band. The allowance has remained the same since 2010-11 and is due to remain frozen at this level until 2026 at the earliest.

The standard IHT rate is 40% of anything in your estate over the £325,000 threshold.

For example, if you leave behind an estate worth £500,000, the tax bill will be £70,000 (40% on £175,000 – the difference between £500,000 and £325,000).

However, if you’re married or in a civil partnership, you may be able to leave more than this before paying tax.

As of April 2017, you can also pay less inheritance tax if you’re leaving property to a family member. This new transferable residential nil rate band allowance now stands at £175,000.

 What our costs cover (all estates)

  • Make initial enquires to enable us to value the Estate assets and collate liability information
  • Conduct a Certainty Search for a Will or later Will
  • Attend to the documentation and online filing required to apply for a Grant of Probate / Letters of Administration
  • Deal with HMRC in relation to the Inheritance Tax position
  • Attending a telephone discussion or meeting with you for you to review and confirm probate and tax documentation
  • Advise you regarding your personal liability as an executor and take steps to mitigate your exposure to risk; implement searches/checks, as required or as instructed by you.

Costs covered in the Standard and Complex Estate Packages

  • Collect in assets
  • Settle liabilities
  • Draft Estate accounts
  • Finalise the income tax position up to date of death
  • Deal with any income tax arising during the administration period
  • Identify all named beneficiaries
  • Distribute the estate according to the Will.

Disbursements – Full Administration
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. For efficiency, we handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf. Listed below are the most common disbursements incurred in a probate matter. Some costs are required in all cases, other may not be applicable and other costs may vary depending on other circumstances as listed below.

Price VAT Total
Certainty Will search £95 £19 £114
Probate application fee £155 £155
Statutory advertisement – London Gazette £64.25 £12.85 £77.10
Statutory advertisement – local £190 £38 £228
Land Registry search fee £3 per search £0.60 £3.60
Bankruptcy search £2 per search £0.40 £2.40
Additional copies of Grant of Probate £1.50 per copy £1.50


Hourly rates (exc VAT)
Partners: £330; Managers: £210; Seniors: £130: Administrators: £60

If there is no Will, there are gifts to consider or the Estate consists of more than four properties and/or any shareholdings (stocks and bonds), there is likely to be additional costs that could vary depending on the extent of the estate and how it is to be distributed. We can be more specific once we have more information. Dealing with the sale or transfer of any property in the estate is not included.


Potential additional costs

Simple  Standard Complex
Review all legal paperwork X X X
Obtain values of the Estate, assets & liabilities X X X
Calculation of gross and net values of estate X X X
Calculation of inheritance tax due X X X
Arranging payment of IHT X
Prepare Statement of Truth X X X
Apply for the Grant of Representation X X X
Receive Grant of Probate X X X
Place statutory notices X X X
Pay all known debts and liabilities of estate X X
Pay legacies X X
Finalise the Estate tax X X
Distribute the residuary estate X X
Estate accounts X X


Harwood Hutton Advisory Services LLP is licensed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales to carry out the reserved legal service of non-contentious probate in England and Wales.

Details of our probate accreditation can be viewed at www.icaew.com/probate under reference number C004146384.

Diversity details
The results of our latest 2021 diversity survey can be viewed at https://www.harwoodhutton.co.uk/about-us/diversity/

Professional indemnity
We have professional indemnity insurance in place with RSA in accordance with the requirements of the ICAEW.

Probate Compensation Scheme
In the unlikely event that we cannot meet our liabilities to you, you may be able to seek a grant from ICAEW’s probate compensation scheme. Generally, applications for a grant must be made to ICAEW within 12 months of the time you become aware or reasonably ought to have been aware of the loss. Further information about the scheme and the circumstances in which grants may be made is available on ICAEW’s website.

Complaints Procedure
Details of the firm’s complaints procedure are included in our letter of engagement.

If you would like to talk to us about how we can improve our service to you, or if you are unhappy with the service you are receiving, please let us know by contacting Adam Stronach, Head of Legal Practice. We will consider carefully any complaint that you may make about our probate or estate administration services as soon as we receive it and will do all we can to resolve the issue. We will acknowledge your complaint within fifteen business days of its receipt and endeavour to deal with it within eight weeks.  Under current flexible working arrangements, complaints should be submitted in the form of a letter to inform@harwoodhutton.co.uk.

If we do not deal with it within this timescale or if you are unhappy with our response, you may take the matter up with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Legal Ombudsman. Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman should be made within six years of the act or omission or within three years of you becoming aware of the issue, and in either case within six months of our written response to your complaint to us. The contact details for the Legal Ombudsman are:

Address:          Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ

Email:              enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk

Telephone:     0300 555 033


Probate – your key questions answered. Click here.





Awards & Affiliations

Client Testimonials
  • I always get quick, clear and definitive responses from the Harwood Hutton tax team – commercial answers to commercial issues.

    Robin Berry – Morgan Management
  • Right from the outset Harwood Hutton gave us direction and great advice – and that advice has evolved over the years as we’ve grown. We’re both medium-sized companies providing a bespoke service – one furniture, one accountancy – and the relationship works.

    Andy McCarron, McCarron and Co
  • I’m deeply impressed with Harwood Hutton’s extensive knowledge of tax arrangements for residential and commercial property landlords.

    Qadeer Ahmed, MD, ABA Finance
  • They really took their time to understand what was important to us and our business and the expertise we required. Whoever we speak to at HH, we get the same fantastic response and technical input. It’s a real partnership.

    Edward Finch, group MD, MRIB insurance brokers
  • I have worked with the directors at Harwood Hutton on a number of mutual client matters over many years. The reassurance of their clear, commercial and focussed advice is one of the main reasons I regard this as one of my most valuable professional relationships.

    Frank Wessely, Partner, Quantuma LLP
  • Harwood Hutton never seem to rest on their laurels. They are always seeking out new avenues and ways to improve their offering. A very forward-thinking company with staff who are always well briefed and who approach each task with drive.

    Karl Austen, MD, Surefoot Communications
  • We have engaged Harwood Hutton in several areas of structuring, including VAT issues, decoupling an SPV from a group structure and HMRC clearance for a transaction. The team have exceeded all expectations by being proactive, measured and very thorough.

    Adam Fawsitt, Director, FHT Limited
  • We moved to Harwood Hutton as they delivered a succinct and professional proposal. If anything, we have been more impressed post-move. They are a fantastic company to work with. They do truly differentiate. They have the skills and capabilities of a mega firm but with a personal service.

    Edward Finch, group MD, MRIB insurance brokers
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