Fees & Complaints
Probate is the general term used for the administration of an estate where a person has died. The work includes advising the Personal Representatives and the Beneficiaries as to the general procedures. We then prepare a list of assets and liabilities and file an Inheritance Tax Return with HM Revenue & Customs. Having paid the tax we then apply to the Probate Registry of the High Court so as to obtain probate. Once probate has been granted we can redeem the assets, pay the debts including any tax.
We prepare the Estate Accounts showing monies received and paid on behalf of the Estate and a Distribution Account, which sets out the Beneficiaries and the amounts they are to receive.
Whether or not there is a Will the procedure is generally the same, except that the Will directs who is to receive the estate and may make gifts and other bequests.
The basis for calculation of our fees
The basis for calculation of our fees is mainly by reference to the time spent by the partner and staff dealing with the transaction or case; the time charged being at all times spent on the client's affairs. This will include attendances upon the client and perhaps others, any time spent travelling considering preparing and working on papers and correspondence making and receiving telephone calls and e-mails.
Each fee earner's time is charged out at an hourly rate which reflects overhead costs. Routine letters and e-mails sent out by the firm are charged at 6 minutes a page, telephone calls in 6 minute units and consideration of letters received at 3 minutes per page. The current hourly rates are as set out below. These rates do not include VAT or disbursements.
Geoffrey Greenhouse/Michael Stirton - £320.00
Qualified solicitor - £250.00
Trainee solicitors/paralegals - £200.00
Legal Accounts Manager - £200.00
If the instructions of the client require that interviews take place or other work is carried out outside normal office hours we reserve the right to increase the level of the hourly rate.
The rates may be higher where the estate is particularly complicated but we will inform you of this before commencing any work.
The hourly rates are reviewed annually to take effect from the 1 January of each year. Details of any revisions of rates occurring during the continuance of a case or transaction will be supplied to a client on request. These rates may not be appropriate in cases of particular complexity or urgency. Where it becomes apparent that such circumstances exist we reserve the right to terminate the retainer unless revised rates are agreed in substitution.
Disbursements include payments by ourselves on behalf of the client. Examples of disbursements are stamp duties, Land Registry and court fees. We have no obligation to make such payments until funds have been provided by the client for that purpose. VAT is payable on certain disbursements.
Fees are payable whether or not a case is successfully concluded or a transaction completed. If any case or transaction does not proceed to completion for any reason during the period in which we are instructed then we shall be entitled to charge for work done on the basis set out above.
It is estimated that the overall cost for this matter will be as se t out in our Letter of Engagement but we will advise you if there is a need to change this estimate and the reasons for its change at least every six months.
In addition to our hourly rate, our fees will be calculated both by reference to the time spent and by reference to the value element.
In the administration of estates and in transactions involving a substantial financial consideration or benefit to the client, fees may be calculated both by reference to the time spent and also by reference to the value element based on e.g. the price of the property the size of the estate or the value of the financial benefit. The value element reflect the importance of the transaction and the consequent responsibility falling on the firm. The value element will be 1 % of the gross estate (reduced to ½ % on the value of the residential home) but where we act as Executors or joint Executors the value element is 1½ % of the gross estate (reduced to 1% of the value on the residential home). We will supply you with details of the costs involved before commencing any work for you though it might be that an actual estimate at this stage cannot be given.
Examples of our fees
Mother dies leaving the sum of £50,000 in a bank account and in accordance with the terms of her Will to be divided equally between her two adult children.
We would advise you to apply for probate personally. This appears to be a straightforward matter and the Probate Office will assist you and indeed you can now make the application on-line.
Your Great Uncle Herbert, who spent the last years of his life in a care home, has appointed you as the Executor of his estate which comprises of numerous investments and accounts and is valued at approximately £1,000,000. You are one of a number of Beneficiaries and part of the estate has been given to charity.
We would charge on an hourly basis and would estimate that we would spend ten hours in obtaining probate and a further ten hours in administrating and distributing the estate. We would estimate our fees as follows:
20 hours at £320.00 per hour £6,400
1% of the gross estate £10,000
Total Fee £19,680
In addition, there will be various disbursements such as the probate fee charged by the Court.
As above but included in the gross estate of £1,000,000 is a residential property that has to be sold. We would instruct an independent Solicitor to undertake the conveyancing work and the Solicitor will charge separately. We would discuss with the Personal Representative (the Executor or Administrator who might be yourself) the choice of Solicitor and the legal fees payable prior to the conveyancing work commencing.
Conveyancing of Domestic and Commercial Properties
We do not undertake any conveyance work.
If we have a probate or trust matter requiring a property transaction, we will ask another firm of Solicitors to deal with conveyancing work on your behalf. Their fees will be payable by the estate. We will of course discuss this with you. We confirm that we do not receive any benefit financially or otherwise in instructing another firm of Solicitors to act on your matter.
Complaints Handling Procedure
Our complaints handling policy
Greenhouse Stirton & Co. is committed to providing a high quality legal service to all our clients. When something goes wrong, we need you to tell us about it. This will help us to improve our standards.
Our complaints handing procedure
If you have a concern or a complaint, please contact us as soon as you are aware of the problem so this can be addressed.
What will happen next?
We will send you a letter acknowledging receipt of your complaint within five days of your raising your concerns, enclosing a copy of this procedure.
We will then investigate your complaint. This will normally involve passing your complaint to our client care partner, who will review your matter, file and speak to the member of staff who acted for you.
You will then be invited to a meeting to discuss and, it is hoped, resolve your complaint. This will be done within 14 days of sending you the acknowledgement letter.
Within three days of the meeting, we will write to you to confirm what took place and any solutions agreed with you.
If you do not want a meeting or it is not possible, we will send you a detailed written reply to your complaint, including any suggestions for resolving the matter, within 21 days of sending you the acknowledgement letter.
At this stage, if you are still not satisfied, you should contact us again to explain why you remain unhappy with our response and we will review your comments. Depending on the matter we may at this stage arrange for another director to review the decision.
We will write to you within 14 days of receiving your request for a review, confirming our final position on your complaint and explaining our reasons.
If you are still not satisfied, you can then contact the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 15870, Birmingham B30 9EB or call 0300 555 0333 about your complaint. Any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of your receiving a final written response from us regard ing your complaint. The Legal Ombudsman has provided further guidance on its service at www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
If we have to change any of the timescales above, we will let you know and explain why.
The Solicitor's Regulation Authority
The SRA can help you if you are concerned about our professional behaviour including conduct of your matter, failing to account to you for m onies we are holding for you or discriminating against you by reason of your age, disability or other characteristic. The SRA can be contacted on 0370 606 2555 and their website is www.sra.org.uk gives further information.