Probate & Estate Administration

Anyone having to cope with a death in the family and the grief of losing a loved also has the burden of sorting out personal and financial paperwork that it inevitably involves.  At Challenor Gardiner, our probate team are here to relieve you of stress and worry it inevitably brings allowing you the time and space to be with you family at this difficult time.

We can help you with the estate administration – providing advice to executors on their duties and responsibilities and on all aspects of the administration of the estate.

We will obtain valuations of the estates assets and liabilities, prepare an Inheritance Tax return for HMRC and arrange for payment of any IHT due and complete an application for a grant of probate, if there’s a will, or a grant of Letters of Administration if there is no will.

We also advise on trust matters if they arise, including acting as trustees of trusts created under the will, administering trusts and winding up of trusts.

If there is no will and the deceased died intestate we will advise on who is entitled to a take out a grant of letters of administration and what the beneficial entitlements are on intestacy.

We can also advise you whether a will can be varied post death to redirect gifts and how to reduce the Inheritance Tax payable on an estate.

We can help you if there is a challenge to the validity of a will or a claim for reasonable financial provision to be made from the estate, for example, by a former spouse or a child of the deceased.

If income tax is payable we will engage an accountant to prepare the returns and we will pay any income tax due from the estate.

We will claim any Inheritance Tax relief on sale of assets below probate valuation.

How Long Will it take

On average, straight forward estates are dealt with within 12 months. Typically, we should be in a position to apply for a grant within 12 weeks of instructions being received from you. Receiving the grant of probate can take a further 8 to 12 weeks. We will then collect in the assets, pay any debts and legacies which can take between 6 to 10 weeks and once all assets are in all payments made, we will ask HMRC for a Clearance Certificate confirming that no further IHT is payable. We can then proceed to prepare full estate accounts prior to distribution of the estate in accordance with the will or the intestacy rules to the next of kin.

Probate and Estate Administration Fees

Our fees for probate work depends on a number of factors, which we will discuss with you initially:

  • Our charges are based on the time it takes to complete the administration. Our fee earners’ hourly rates (which includes an uplift on our expense rate) are set out below
  • If the estate is of high value or complexity we may charge based on our hourly rate, plus a value element, which we will discuss with your at the outset.
  • If the work is predictable and not complex, we may agree a fixed fee for the work,
  • All our fees are subject to payment of VAT at 20%

Once we have been able to make an assessment of the estate papers and what is involved in the estate we will discuss with you our charges for the administration of the estate.

Charging Probate Work

Our fees are calculated mainly based on the amount of time spent on the administration, but that’s not all. The charges can also reflect the following as well:

  • the complexity and any anticipated difficulties during the administration, such as, an intestacy where there is no will and identifying the right beneficiaries, there are one or more properties or foreign assets, IHT is payable, substantial lifetime gifts have been made, the will creates a trust, the terms of the will need varying, with everyone’s agreement
  • the skill, specialised knowledge and responsibility involved
  • the amount and importance of the documents prepared or considered
  • the amount or value of any money or property involved
  • whether any land involved is registered land or unregistered
  • the importance of the matter to you

Time taken and value of the estate are two of the main factors which determine the level of our charges and where we have been appointed as executor of the estate in a will the value element of our charge will be more due to the added personal responsibility undertaken.

A typical estate administration involving a property, bank account savings and some investments, but no IHT to pay and straightforward distribution to the beneficiaries will cost on average between £2,500 and £4,500 plus VAT and any disbursements we pay. The more straightforward the will and the fewer the assets the less our fee will be and, conversely the more complex the estate is, the greater the assets are the more our fees will be.

If the estate is high in value, involves more than one property or more complex financial affairs, there is IHT to pay and a full IHT has to be prepared, our charges will be in the range £5,000 plus VAT to £8,500 plus VAT and will take between 20 and 30 hours work. We will give you a more accurate estimate once that information becomes available.

Some estates can take longer to complete where there is greater complexity and are more involved and our charges will reflect that.

Our Probate Department

Nick Bingham is the principal of the firm and qualified as a solicitor in 1985 and has overall supervision of the department. He also acts as an executor and trustee on many estates.

Lyn Tomlins has been Probate Manager since joining the firm from Barclays Bank where she gained 20 years experience in the bank’s probate section and has responsibility for the day to day running of the probate files under supervision.

Gloria Asaaga graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a LLB in 2011, completed her Legal Practice course in 2013 and her LLM at Reading University in 2017. Following a career break she worked as a paralegal in a large regional law firm before joining us in August 2019 to continue her legal career with a a trainee solicitor. 

Our Hourly Charging Rates

Nick Bingham’s hourly rate as Principal and supervisor is currently £295

Lyn Tomlins’ hourly rate as probate manager is £200

Gloria Asaaga’s fees as a trainee solicitor is £165

Hourly Charging rates are reviewed annually


VAT is charged on all our fees at the prevailing rate, currently 20%


In addition to the fees we charge, there will be disbursements we pay to third parties, such as probate court fees. We pay all the disbursements required, which include the following:

  • If the value of the estate is over £5,000, the application fee is £273. There’s no fee if the estate is £5,000 or less
  • £0.50 for each office copy of the grant
  • Bankruptcy only searches with Land Charges Department at £1 per beneficiary
  • £101.52 inclusive of VAT statutory advertisement in the London Gazette – this protects the personal representatives against unexpected claims or unknown creditors; and
  • £250 (approx.) inclusive of VAT for a statutory advertisement in a local newspaper