How much does it cost to do Probate?
Probate is a term that the public tend to give to the whole process of sorting out a person's estate from the minute they've passed away until the minute everything's been given out to the beneficiaries. In the legal industry, probate really is just referring to the initial process of getting the Grant of Probate, which is essentially permission from the courts for the Executor to begin doing the jobs given to them in the Will.
The cost of Probate is very difficult to explain in detail as it really does vary case to case. I can at least however give you a little idea of what goes into making these costs up.
Lets look first of all at the disbursements, these unavoidable costs that everyone has to pay even if they are go through probate themselves without professional help. This includes costs such as Probate Registry fees and fees to swear the oath. Once the grant's been granted you may face additional disbursements such as Estate Agents and Conveyance solicitors where a house sale is required. If the Executor is choose to spend the large amount of their own time needed to complete the process themselves, then disbursements are the only costs which the estate will have to bear.
If however you prefer to appoint a professional Executor to ensure everything is done correctly, you would need to add their fees onto the total bill. Now unfortunately, these can vary massively and a lot of it really down to the company doing it, some are bargain basement some charge horrendous amounts. A lot of the bargain basement firms might only be charging you a "Grant only fee" which looks like a steal until you realise they are only getting the Grant of Probate for you then leaving you to do the rest yourself.
The fee is usually based on one of two methods, the percentage of the estate's total worth (commonly anywhere from 1.5% to 5% or the other option would be judging how many hours of work is required and submitting an estimate based on the hourly rate.
Charging a percentage of the estate is often seem as quite unfair. If you look at a £300k estate and simply charge 3% of the estate value, that's a bill of £9,000. It might be that the estate only comprises a house so apart from handling the sale, the case is relatively straightforward. It doesn't seem right to charge more for this than an estate worth only £200k but that lots of work involved, including many shares, savings, accounts which require huge amounts of paperwork.
So these are the main elements which make up a probate quote but every case really is different. If you find someone that you trust, get them quote you based on the work involved rather than a percentage of the estate. If not then get quotes from multiple firms and see how you feel about each firm because cheaper isn't always better.