When someone dies, executors appointed in Wills or by the Court if there is no Will are responsible for dealing with the administration of a deceased’s estate. The executors can choose to instruct Solicitors to assist with as much or as little as they require.

The steps the executors are required to take depend on a number of factors which can vary significantly from estate to estate. Some of these factors are:

  • Whether there is a Will
  • The type and value of the assets
  • The value of an estate
  • Each organisation’s (e.g bank, pension providers) requirements for dealing with the assets

We offer a range of services to assist executors in dealing with the estate of the deceased. Each of these services will attract a different level of fee based on the work we carry out.


Initial Appointments

We are of course happy to meet with families and executors to discuss the steps required to deal with the administration of a loved one’s estate. This will always be tailored to the specific requirements in each case. After the meeting it is up to the Executor to decide whether they wish to instruct us to assist with any or all aspects of the administration.

In cases where the Executors do not require further assistance from us after the initial meeting and are happy to deal with the administration of the estates themselves, we would charge a one-off fee starting from £250 plus VAT. This means the cost of an initial meeting only including VAT, could start from £300.


Confirmation Only Service – the deceased had a Will


Executors sometimes decide to deal with investigating the estate and, following the granting of Confirmation, deal with ingathering and distributing the estate themselves. Accordingly, they may only require limited assistance from us to prepare the Application for Confirmation to be lodged with the Sheriff Court. All required information must be supplied by the Executors direct.

Our fee for this service starts at £1,200 plus VAT which means the cost, including VAT, amounts to £1,440.

Outlays in obtaining Confirmation

In addition to our fee, there are also a number of outlays which must be paid to third parties.

In each case, the Sheriff Court will charge an examination fee based on the value shown in the Inventory of Estate submitted to them. The costs are as follows:

Estate value of up to £50,000 No fee
Estate value between £50,000.01 and £250,000 £282
Estate value exceeding £250,000 £565

We recommend clients obtain individual Certificates of Confirmation for each item of estate. This will help in the prompt ingathering of the estate. Currently, individual Certificates of Confirmation are available at a cost of £8 each.

Where there is a Will

We normally register this in the Books of Council and Session or Court Books and obtain an extract. This preserves the Will. The costs of registration of the Will in the Books of Council and Session/Court Books is £20.

Additional documents, such as Letters of Declinature, Deeds of Assumption & Resignation, Discharge of Legal Rights for example are also usually registered in the Books of Council and Session/Court Books. Again, in these circumstances, the registration costs are £20 per document.


Intestate – Where deceased did not have a Will


We will lodge a Petition for Appointment of Executor Dative with the Sheriff Court to appoint Executors. The court costs for lodging the Petition are £20.

In addition, a Bond of Caution is usually required if there is no Will. This is a type of insurance policy to protect beneficiaries and creditors should the executor incorrectly distribute the estate. There is a one-off premium for a Bond of Caution based on the value of the estate. The insurance company that issues it will asses the level or perceived risk once they receive details of the value of the estate. They may also ask for additional information, such as details of the extended family of the deceased. The average premium charged is £270 but this can be higher or lower depending on the value of the estate and perceived risk.

It is a standard condition of the issue of such Bonds that Executors sign an irrevocable mandate, to the effect that the appointed Solicitors will ingather all estate funds and deal with settlement of all estate debts and liabilities before distribution to the beneficiaries. The Solicitors will therefore need to be involved in all aspects of the estate administration (see full Estate Administration).

In addition, in the event of a genealogist being required to create a family tree, the additional costs of this will be passed to the estate.

Where the assets of the estate consist of properties, house contents, business assets, shares etc. we may need to incur professional fees in having these valued. Further, if the house contents need to be cleared and the property cleaned before being placed on the market for sale, the additional charges for this will be added to the estate.

All ongoing required charges such as buildings and contents insurance, maintenance costs and ongoing utility costs will also have to be met from the estate. Where the Estate does not have immediate access to funds (eg. where Confirmation is required before funds can be released) an Executor may be required to personally meet insurance/maintenance costs upfront. However they can be reimbursed as soon as funds are available.


Full Estate Administration


In some cases, Executors prefer that all aspects of the administration of the estate are dealt with by a solicitor. When we are instructed in that capacity, we will act as an agent for the Executors.

Every estate is different. There are a variety of steps that may need to be taken, depending on how the estate is made up as well as such things as family and business circumstances. This means it is very difficult to indicate at the outset what the likely costs of administration of the estate will be.

We instruct independent Law Accountants to determine the administration fee for the estate to ensure fairness. The Law Accountants will take into account the level and complexity of the work involved, the level of responsibility for transactions and funds held by us. They will also determine what is a fair and reasonable fee for the work we carry out.

Our fee is based on an hourly charging rate and we will explain this in our Terms of Engagement letter we will issue to you at the outset of the executry. Our hourly charging rate is set out in the following table:

Position Fee (exclusive of VAT) VAT Cost (including VAT)
Partner £260 £52 £312
Associate £225 £45 £270
Solicitor £200 £40 £240
Trainee/Paralegal £175 £35 £210

Typical overall costs for the full estate administration service can vary. More straightforward estates will likely be assessed in the region of £2,000-£3,000 plus VAT and outlays. More complex estates will likely be assessed at a higher amount. The average estate is likely to be assessed in the region of £5,000-£7,000 plus VAT and outlays. 

The steps we take when we provide a full estate administration service include the following:-

  • The initial meeting with the Executors to find out the necessary information about the estate.
  • Contact the organisations the deceased held assets or had obligations with in order to investigate the deceased’s estate and obtain information on the assets and liabilities
  • Prepare the Inventory and forms required for the Application for Confirmation.
  • Send the draft Inventory and forms to the Executors for approval and thereafter deal with the signing of the documents.
  • Submit the Application for Confirmation to the Court
  • Where Inheritance Tax is payable, we will prepare the forms have to be submitted directly to HMRC and calculate the amount of tax to be paid before Confirmation can be granted, deal with payment and obtain the Certification Code Letter required from HMRC before Confirmation can be lodged with the Sheriff Court.
  • For intestate estates see previous section re Bond of Caution etc.
  • Take the necessary steps to ingather in the assets of the estate. This may be closing bank accounts, selling or transferring property*, shares, investments etc.
  • Settle any estate debts, including legal rights claims.
  • Make payment of any legacies in the Will.
  • Consider the Estate’s Capital Gains Tax and /or Income Tax positions and deal with payment of any resulting tax.
  • Prepare the Executry Account or Cash Statement detailing the funds received and payments made on behalf of the estate, which is ultimately approved by the Executors before final distribution takes place
  • Deal with distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.

* Please note: Estate Agency and Conveyancing Fees are charged separately from Estate Administration Fees. See appropriate sections for information on how these fees are determined.


Inheritance Tax


It is appropriate to provide a brief outline of Inheritance Tax (IHT). IHT is paid on the estate of someone who has dies in depending on the size of the estate. There is usually no IHT 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, this threshold can increase to £500,000 if you give away your home to your children or grandchildren.

If your estate does not reach the tax free threshold and if you are married or in a civil partnership, any unused threshold can be added to your partner’s threshold when they die.

In some circumstances, it is possible that a surviving spouse or civil partner will have a threshold of £1 million.

If your estate is above the tax free threshold, IHT will be charged at 40% of the balance of estate above the threshold.

Inheritance Tax is a complicated area of law. There are also a variety of exemptions and reliefs that might be applied. For further information on IHT, please visit the government’s website pages on Inheritance Tax.

If you would like further information specific to an estate in which you are involved, please get in touch.