Cost of dealing with an Estate

We’ll explain the cost of dealing with an estate on this page. We provide two options when dealing with an Estate. We can provide a restricted, focused service where we establish the extent of the estate and submit the Inventory of Estate for Confirmation. Once Confirmation is granted, the client deals with the ingathering and distribution of the Estate.

Alternatively, we deal with the entire process from beginning to end. We’ll look after all aspects of the estate for you.

Confirmation only service

Some clients decide to carry out the investigation of the estate themselves and, following the grant of Confirmation, deal with the ingathering of the estate.

If you only wish us to deal with the submission of the Inventory of Estate for Confirmation, we will carry out that work for £950.00 excluding VAT.

This means the cost to you, inclusive of VAT, is £1,140.00.

In addition, you will need to meet the costs of Confirmation when we submit the Inventory of estate to the Sheriff Court.

The fee charged by the Sheriff Court for receiving and examining the Inventory is based on the value of the Estate. Here are the current fee tiers:

Estate value of up to £50,000 No fee
Estate value between £50,000.01 and £250,000 £266.00
Estate value exceeding £250,000 £532.00

If you ask us to provide any additional service in relation to the estate, the fee basis will revert to our Full Estate Service fee

Full Estates Service

When someone dies and they have assets, these need to be collected and distributed. Any debts due by the deceased need to be identified and paid. Every estate is different and it is very difficult to outline the likely specific costs. However, we are able to give you an indication of the potential cost of the work by taking a typical fee charge.

We should stress at the outcome that we send our file for an assessment of fees to an independent auditor who will assess the fee we should charge based on the work we have carried out for you.

Our fee for this type of work depends on a number of factors. These are whether there’s a Will and whether the estate attracts Inheritance Tax.

If there is a Will, a typical fee for this type of work is £2,500 (exclusive of VAT). This means the cost to you is £3,000 (including VAT).

If there is no Will, a typical fee for this type of work is £3,500 (exclusive of VAT). This means the cost to you is £4,200 (including VAT).

If the estate involved inheritance tax computations, a typical fee for this type of estate is £4,000 (exclusive of VAT). This means the cost to you is £4,800 (including VAT).

This fee covers all the legal work we will do for you and which we will outline later.

We should also point out that the fee for carrying out the legal work is only part of the cost of dealing with an estate. These additional costs will vary depending, for instance, if there is or is not a Will.

The additional cost of dealing with an Estate

For the purposes of these examples, we will look at an estate with a value of £200,000 which would comprise a house of around the average price in Scotland (£165,000) along with some savings and, perhaps, an insurance policy.

Dealing with an estate attracts a number of additional costs. These additional costs can vary depending on whether there is or is not a Will as well as the value of the estate.

In addition to the fee we’ve indicated above, there are additional costs involved that have to be added. We also have to cater for the situation where there is no Will as well as where there is a Will.

Where there is NO Will

Full Estate Service Cost

Legal Fee £3,500.00
VAT on the Fee £700.00
Court dues for petition for appointment of executor £19.00
Cost of a Bond of Caution * £350.00
Cost of Confirmation # £266.00
Estimated Total £4,835.00

* Where there is no Will, a Bond of Caution is normally required, unless the following applies:

  • 100% of the deceased’s estate passes to their surviving spouse of civil partner, or
  • Where the total value of the estate is below £36,000

A Bond of Caution is a type of insurance policy required, by law, when the deceased died without leaving a Will. It is granted for the protection of beneficiaries against incorrect distribution of the deceased’s estate by the executor. The premium for a Bond of Caution will vary based on the value of estate and any particular circumstances where the insurer perceives there to be a specific additional risk.

Where there IS a Will

Full Estate Service Cost

Legal Fee £2,500.00
VAT on the Fee £500.00
Cost of Confirmation # £266.00
Estimated Total £3,266.00

# The cost of Confirmation, the document issued by the court giving authority to the executor to deal with the deceased’s assets, is charged by the Sheriff Court when the Inventory listing the extent of the Estate is lodged. The Fees charged by the Sheriff Court for this are based on the value of the estate. Frequently, in addition to the principal Certificate of Confirmation, we will request individual Certificates for each item of estate that needs to be ingathered. This allows us to ingather the estate quickly rather than having to send the principal Certificate of Confirmation to each organisation who holds assets to be collected and distributed. You can view the current costs for Confirmation by visiting the Scottish Courts website by clicking here.

Inheritance Tax

Inheritance Tax is a tax on the estate of someone who has dies. There is usually no inheritance tax to pay if:

  • The value of the estate is below the current threshold of £325,000, or
  • You leave everything above the £325,000 threshold to your spouse, civil partner, a charity or a community amateur sports club.

In addition, if you give away our home to your children or grandchildren this threshold can increase to £500,000.

Also, if you are married or in a civil partnership and your estate is worth less than your threshold, any unused threshold can be added to your partner’s threshold when you die.

If all of these figures are added together, it is possible that a surviving spouse or civil partner will have a threshold of £1 million.

The rate of Inheritance Tax due by the estate is 40% of the value of the estate over the threshold.

Inheritance Tax is a complicated area of law and there are a variety of exemptions and reliefs. To gain a full appreciation of Inheritance Tax, we recommend you visit the government’s website pages on Inheritance Tax which you can view by clicking here.

In our cost example we’ve outlined above, the estate is less than the threshold of £325,000 and therefore exempt from Inheritance Tax. However, even though it is below the threshold, the value still needs to be reported to HMRC.

What’s involved in dealing with an Estate?

What is included in dealing with an estate will vary depending, initially, on whether the deceased left a Will.

Initial procedure where the deceased did not leave a Will:

  • Taking initial instructions
  • Advising you on the process involved
  • Asking questions and receiving information on:
    • The deceased’s relationships and family tree
    • Whether the person instructing is entitled to be appointed executor
    • If not, who is entitled to be appointed executor
  • Preparing and lodging the Petition for appointment of executor with the Sheriff Court
  • Reviewing Prior Rights position
  • Preparing Bond of Caution and Proposal Form

In all cases

  • Contacting all organisations holding deceased’s assets (e.g. Banks, Insurers, Pension Companies etc) to determine value of those assets
  • If the deceased owned heritable property (land and buildings), having a valuation carried out
  • Establishing the extent of debts of the deceased
  • Communicating with beneficiaries (Full Estate Service only)
  • Calculating the extent of the estate and outlining Inheritance Tax position
  • Reviewing Legal Rights position
  • Preparing Inventory of Estate
  • Having declaration on Inventory signed by Executor(s)
  • Submitting Inventory of Estate for Confirmation
  • Receiving Confirmation and reporting to Executor

Full Estate Service only

  • Ingathering estate and settling debts
  • Preparing account of charge and discharge for approval of executor(s)
  • Distributing estate to beneficiaries
  • Reporting to executor(s) throughout

Does this include everything in the cost of dealing with an Estate?

We have provided a list of the common steps we take in every case when dealing with an Estate. However, every case is different and, on many occasions, we need to carry out additional work to bring the estate to a close. The fee quoted above does not include the following:

  • Establishing whether the deceased may have made a Will
  • Disputes about the appointment of executor where there is no Will
  • The Will being challenged
  • Establishing the whereabouts of missing beneficiaries
  • Curing defects in a Will
  • Creating a Deed of Variation to re-distribute assets
  • Dealing with assets located outwith Scotland
  • Dealing with share valuations and share transfers
  • Complex trust arrangements contained within the Will
  • Questions of insolvency
  • Dealing with vulnerable beneficiaries
  • Advising on Inheritance Tax
  • Selling or transferring heritable property (land and buildings)
  • Dealing with estate of minor beneficiaries
  • Negotiating with HMRC regarding taxation issues
  • Dealing with business interests of the deceased

This list is not exhaustive but gives an indication of the types of issues we sometimes face when dealing with an Estate.

The case may require additional work to be carried out that is not included in the fee we have described above. Should circumstances arise which may give rise to additional costs, we will advise you of these circumstances and discuss the additional costs with you at the earliest opportunity.

If you have any questions about our fees or if you would like further information specific to your own case, please complete the following short form and send it to us. We will respond to you as soon as we can.

For further information

If you would like to know more about dealing with an Estate, please click here.

You may also be interested in our article “What to do after a death” which you can read by clicking here.