By Chris Milne, Head of Private Client

At Onions & Davies, we have recently been involved with correcting some work carried out by unqualified Will writers.

In reading the paperwork presented to us, it is interesting to note that these companies, in advertising their estate administration service, state that solicitors charge in excess of 5% of the value of an estate (or similar wording) for their services. Over the past 28 years, I have worked for five different solicitors’ practices and none of them, not even the most expensive one, charged anywhere near 5% of the value of the estate. The average is probably more like 2.5%.

It does not have to be expensive asking a solicitor to administer an estate, and here at Onions and Davies, our Private Client team will always meet with you, free of charge, initially, to set out the various options open to you and to let you have a good idea as to the likely cost before you commit.

Some people ask us to do the whole thing and this is the most costly option. If there are a significant number of assets, many decades worth of old paperwork to plough through, a house to sell, involved assets (such as foreign property, farms or businesses), missing beneficiaries to trace and trusts to set up, then this requires a significant amount of legal work and this can cost quite a lot of money. The process is time consuming, it involves interacting with a lot of other organisations, and significant legal expertise and experience is required.

On the other hand, some people just want us to complete the Inheritance Tax return and get the Grant of Probate, as they are happy dealing with the assets and liabilities and paying the beneficiaries. In this case we would charge a fixed fee, usually no more than £1,000.

Although every estate is different, a typical estate, consisting of a house, some accounts and some savings, would usually cost around £3,000 – £4,000 to administer the whole estate. The average value of an estate like this is around £300,000 – £400,000 and so the legal fees equate to around 1%.

For this, you get the peace of mind that the estate has been administered correctly, the protection of accountability (solicitors’ practices must carry insurance against making mistakes), and it saves you a lot of time and effort.

Don’t be scared off by untruths about our fees, come and ask us what is involved, what we can do for you, and how much that will cost. For a free initial appointment to discuss the administration of an estate, please ring 01630 652405 to make an appointment to see either Chris Milne or Sarah McDermott, or email chris@onionsanddavies.co.uk or sarah@onionsanddavies.co.uk