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A Guide to Probate and Estate Administration


This guide sets out what has to happen, from a legal and financial perspective, when somebody dies. This can be a very upsetting and difficult period for you. You should think carefully before deciding if you want to take on this additional administration burden, which can be complicated and take several months to finalise. If you have any concerns, Roger Lugg & Co are licensed to provide probate services in England and Wales and can help you during this stressful time.

Probate is a term used generically to refer to the process of dealing with the estate of a deceased person. The people who are legally entitled to deal with the estate of the person who has died are known as ‘personal representatives’.

If there is a will naming executors, and they are willing and able to act, they become the personal representatives. They will need to obtain a grant of probate from the Probate Registry, which will enable them to fulfil their duties.

If there are no executors willing or able to act, or if there is no will, the personal representatives will be called ‘administrators’, and they will need to obtain a ‘grant of letter of administration’ which gives them authority to act. To keep things simple we will use the term probate to cover all situations.

The probate process ensures that relevant taxes are calculated and paid, money owing to creditors and owed by debtors is collected, and, if a will has been made, the deceased’s remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with his or her wishes.

The process of probate can sound quite formal and complicated. To help you with some of the common words and phrases that are used, we have put together a glossary of probate and estate administration terms at the end of this guide.

The cost of administering an estate depends on the type and value of assets, who inherits and if there is inheritance tax to pay. It will also fluctuate based on the amount of work you want us to do on your behalf, and the work you may be prepared to do yourself.  We can offer fixed fee packages, typically ranging from £1,500 to £10,000 + VAT, or a fee based on the hourly rates of;

Partner – £250 + VAT per hour

Manager – £180 + VAT per hour

Assistant – £100 + VAT per hour

We can provide a more accurate quote once we have more information.

Estates Under £5,000

If an estate is less than typically £5,000 then there is no legal requirement to apply for probate and there will be no fees involved. All you will need are copies of the death certificate and to arrange an appointment with the deceased person’s bank.

Roger Lugg & Co are licensed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales to carry out the reserved legal service of non-contentious probate in England and Wales.

The time taken to deal with an estate varies depending on the complexity.  For example, it might only take around 12 weeks for a very straightforward estate where there is no tax to pay, 6 to 8 months for a straightforward case with tax to pay, and more than 12 months if the estate is more complex.

We can provide a better guide once we have more information.

If a person dies without leaving a will or the will that is left is invalid, they are said to have died “intestate”.

For deaths on or after 1 October 2014, if an individual is survived by a spouse or civil partner but no children or remoter issue, the entire estate will go to the surviving spouse or civil partner. What happens to the deceased person’s estate depends on who that individual is survived by.

If the deceased individual is survived by spouse/civil partner and children or remoter issue, the surviving spouse or civil partner will receive the first £250,000 and half of the excess over £250,000. The children will receive the other half of the excess equally between them.

Other rules determine who will inherit if there is no surviving spouse or children, it is therefore important to take professional advice.

Who Inherits If There Is No Will

Use this tool provided by the Government to discover who inherits a deceased person’s estate if there has been no will left.

If you believe you should be a beneficiary there is also guidance provided by the Government on making a claim on the estate.

While it used to be the case that probate was handled by a solicitor, since 2014 accountants have been able to legally assist with uncontested probate (the vast majority of cases). While you can still use a solicitor for probate, it makes more sense to turn to your accountant for probate, as the solicitor involved would usually have to consult an accountant in the process anyway.

Solicitors and accountants often operate on a time-spent business model, so if all of the information is at the fingertips of the deceased person’s accountant then time is used more efficiently, fewer enquires need to be made, and the whole process becomes more simple and cost-effective. Some solicitors actually charge on % of the estate, so in those cases their services may be very costly.

Finally, hiring a probate solicitor will often mean you’ll need to engage both a solicitor and an accountancy firm to help you deal with probate, as a solicitor can only deal with part of an uncontested probate, whereas an accountant can deal with all tasks for you.

Why You Should Hire A Probate Accountant

Hiring a probate accountant is the most often recommended solution:

  • Licensed probate accountants can deal with all aspects of probate
  • Accountants have good working relationships with HMRC and are in a better position to negotiate for you
  • The deceased person’s accountant will already have most of the figures they require and will need to find out about beneficiaries’ financial situations only
  • Your accountant will already have most of your information as a beneficiary and may only need details of the deceased person’s assets
  • Probate accountants are more cost-competitive

The only time we would recommend engaging a solicitor in addition to our services would be in a contested probate situation.

Of course we strive to do our very best for all of our clients, so if you are in any way unsatisfied with our services please contact us as your first point of call. Your complaint will be handled by our partners who will contact you as soon as possible to try and resolve the complaint. Please supply us with information in writing to our head office address: Roger Lugg & Co, 12-14 High St, Caterham, Surrey, CR3 5UA

If your complaint cannot be resolved with us directly you are encouraged to escalate your complaint to the ICAEW, you can find more information about this process here.

You can find further details of our professional indemnity insurance and the ICAEW’s Probate Compensation Scheme on this page.

Roger Lugg & Co is licensed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales to provide the reserved legal activity of non-contentious probate in England and Wales.

Details of our probate accreditation can be viewed at under reference number C006881063.

You can find the information required by the provision of services regulation here.