Solicitor Charges

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Andrew Krajewski




Thu Nov 27, 2014 8:40 pm

Solicitor Charges

by Andrew Krajewski » Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:21 pm

Recently I approached a solicitor about their charges for obtaining probate.

I received a FIVE page document explaining why they charge what they do.
Why would anybody need 5 pages to justify their fees if they were fair?

They charge £155 per hour, a reasonable amount I felt.

However when I asked how many hours they would require
they couldn't tell me because that of course depends on the complexity of the case.
Put that another way, it's a licence to print money.

On top of that I was expected to pay for postage, telephone, photocopying, etc.
Another licence to print money.

What really hurt was that they wanted
an additional fee of 1.5% of the gross value of the estate.
When I asked WHY?
I was told that it enables them to keep their hourly rate low.
What a crock of ....

They also informed me that they 'hoped' to obtain probate in 9 - 12 months.

There's still more.

To obtain probate, the solicitor has to complete a Government Probate form
on which they list the deceased's assets and submit it to the Probate Office.
And where do they get that information from?
They ask you to give them a list which they then transfer onto the form.
What nonsense!

The answer is,
to complete the form and submit it yourself
and save thousands of pounds.

That's what we did and it wasn't difficult
as there there is loads of advice available on-line to help to complete the form.
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Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:19 pm

Re: Solicitor Charges

by Voytek » Fri Jan 30, 2015 10:49 am

Having recently gone through this exercise I thought I would share my experience which you may find useful or helpful.

The first question is, if it is not stated in the will, should I engage a solicitor or attempt it myself. Naturally dealing with the affairs of a loved one can be very traumatic and upsetting. Going through my mother’s personal effects was not easy although she had told me where “all the important documents” were.

Not having dealt with Probate before it seemed to me that the easiest option was just to put it in the hands of a solicitor and let them get on with it. However I was surprised at their charges of over £150 per hour (plus vat of course) and also that they could not tell me how many hours it could take and therefore any idea of costs. In addition they also charge an additional fee of 1.5% of the Estate Value. This at the very least would mean that we would be into costs of several thousands of pounds! Moreover the information for them to complete Probate would have to be supplied by me in the first place. I was seething.

So the alternative was to have a go at doing it myself. I looked at the source of “all knowledge” that’s right my laptop and Google. Having googled “How to obtain Probate” various sites came up. The most useful was ... esentation

Here I found lots of information which guided me carefully to the relevant forms that I would need to complete (the explanatory notes were easy to understand and covered any queries I had). You do have to be methodical, careful and thorough as you complete the forms. I found it useful to re-check them regularly as I gathered the required information and corrected a few misunderstandings.

However all in all in was not as hard and complicated a task as I had imagined or been led to believe by solicitors-wonder why?

I sent off all the papers asking for several copies of the Grant of Probate and waited. A few weeks later I received some correspondence and had to go and swear an oath at the local solicitor (cost £7) saying in effect that I had completed the probate application honestly and correctly. I then posted the sworn oath documents back to the Probate Office.

Several weeks later I received a letter with the Grant of Probate and some additional copies that I had requested.

Essentially the Grant of Probate says that I as an Executor can deal with the estate. This document or copies are then sent to various parties ie Banks, Investment Organisations etc and they can release funds etc.

So the whole process from applying for Probate to receiving the Grant of Probate took 7 weeks. It just cost me a bit of time and effort and saved the family thousands of pounds.

So don’t be afraid of having a go. The information to help you is out there and freely available.


PS. But please make sure that you do make adequate Inheritance Tax Planning. In our case because my mother did many years ago we have avoided, quite legally, a massive tax bill. Our parents worked very hard for many years making considerable sacrifices. They paid their taxes and to have to pay an additional 40% on their already taxed assets would have been deplorable.
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Tue Jan 27, 2015 5:27 pm

Re: Solicitor Charges

by flyingdancer » Mon Feb 09, 2015 4:47 pm

I agree with you. It's actually quite simple if you take it steadily. And the Government departments (even HMRC for inheritance tax) are really helpful if you explain that you are not a legal professional.

You really can do it yourself, even if probate and inheritance tax are involved.

Takes a bit of effort over quite a long period but far cheaper and far more satisfying than using a solicitor.
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Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:54 pm

Re: Solicitor Charges

by Zak » Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:05 pm

When I went through a very simple (no children) divorce many years ago
I was shocked by the fee that the solicitor was charging.

When I expressed my surprise and concern,
the solicitor replied "Pay us what you think our work is worth."

So I did,
paying them roughly half of what they were attempting to charge me.

They accepted the reduced payment and that was that.

Since then I've always regarded solicitor charges with suspicion
particularly as invariably I have found their service to be lacking
usually around communication issues.

Often a quick telephone conversation would resolve an issue
Solicitors prefer to send a letter
for which they can charge some ridiculous fee
and which inevitably creates delays.

Consequently, I avoid solicitors like the plague
and will only use them if I absolutely have to.

So I welcome the previous posts
on the ease of obtaining probate.

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