Not only that, but they are permitted to charge an additional “responsibility allowance” sometimes called the “value element” which can be as much as 1.8% of the value of estate. To take an extreme example, an estate with just one million pounds in the bank might take say 8 hours to deal with – maybe £2000 if you are lucky. But the responsibility allowance could be £18,000.
Needless to say, when recommending solicitors, we avoid the ones charging “responsibility allowances” wherever possible! They certainly have their place when executors want absolutely minimal involvement, but it does come with a big bill, generally speaking.
So is there a middle way to get probate advice that doesn’t cost too much and is totally flexible, we asked ourselves. There wasn’t anything that quite fitted the bill, so we had a chat with a probate expert and helped to design the Assisted Probate Service as a low cost alternative. Why not let the clients do as much or as little of the legwork as they like? Many of the jobs – with a bit of guidance – are really simple and there is no need to pay a professional to do them. But you still need to avoid pitfalls that you may not even be aware of.
Further benefits are very low overheads, reflected in the fees, and just one person to deal with.
How does the Allied Law Assisted Probate Advice Service help?
Quite simply, it offers as much or as little help as the executors want.
- Maybe you need the real meaning of the Will explained – many family executors have no experience in interpreting Wills. A spot of professional advice could save serious problems.
- If there is not a Will, who is entitled to what?
- Is it possible to change the Will to benefit someone who should have been included, to avoid any threat of very expensive Court action?
- Maybe the executors just want the probate forms checked?
- Reassurance for the beneficiaries that things are being checked.
- Just a bit of handholding with probate advice as needed?
- Perhaps they want to do searches for potential missing assets or beneficiaries.
- Maybe the Executors are busy and want someone else to get the correct value to put in the forms.
- They can point you in the right direction if you want to do s.27 adverts to protect you against claims from creditors being received after these have expired.
- Maybe you just want to hand it all over to somebody else to prevent arguments in the family at what can be a very stressful time.
So how much does the Assisted Probate Service cost?
The hourly rate depends on whether the IHT400 is needed, and is lower for straightfoward estates. On normal estates, the rates are typically half those of solicitors, but you will only be paying for the time you need, so the number of hours is typically way lower and savings should be more than 75%, or perhaps 50% (compared to an inexpensive solicitor) if you hand the whole thing over.
Be aware that there is an initial £250 deposit, which you can recover from the estate. If the bill is less than that, there will be a refund.
(Solicitors’ hourly rates are rarely below £300 including VAT and mostly more than that. We have heard of £475 an hour PLUS VAT. Our rates are much lower, and we are there to help, not take over.)