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  • FIRST POST
    • MattWright
    • By MattWright 10th Jan 18, 10:17 AM
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    MattWright
    Complex Estate / Need Some Advice / Tips
    • #1
    • 10th Jan 18, 10:17 AM
    Complex Estate / Need Some Advice / Tips 10th Jan 18 at 10:17 AM
    Hello, Iíve joined up purely to post here. My fianc!ís father has unexpectedly passed away. A great man and an enormous loss to us all.

    He has two children (my fianc! and her brother). Both of whom are very close (thankfully). He is divorced (twenty years ago) and is close with his ex wife and so; thereís to be no dispute, or issues that I can foresee, except; perhaps for an ex partner who helped in his business for a handful of years. More on that later.

    A will has been found with his solicitor - made back in 2004 stating his two children are to receive everything. The executor is a lawyer at said firm and he is still with them. So far so good.

    However the first alarm bell is that the Solicitors are stating that they are unable to give a cost for their services due to the large estate. I understand this but pressed them for a figure. Theyíve said anywhere between 15k up to 22k plus VAT. And this is with us (the family) doing all of the heavy lifting - i.e: valuations, estate assets listing with liabilities, etc. There should be little to no investigative work for them to do. So I find their charges a bit much.

    Theyíve said that they charge hourly and not on % of estate.

    The estate includes 14 properties and 12 vehicles with a few other more obscure assets. And so I understand itís not an average estate. Value might be £5,000,000 but with liabilities, it could go down to more like 2,700,000.

    The ONLY unknown is that an ex partner (as mentioned) might come out of the woodwork to make a claim; despite having been taken care of; morally sheís no right but when has that stopped people before

    And so, my questions are:

    1: with the size of the estate and variables therein; we are best to use a solicitor / specialist for probate, etc?

    2: can the two beneficiaries (my fianc! and her brother) change the executor? Can they not demand to be the executors themselves?

    3: if they cannot change the executor; should they stay with the law firm that the executor works for? For ease of refinement?

    4: if we are going to do all of the heavy work; can we get quotes from / use other Solicitors; even if the executor is at this other firm?

    5: do the costs Iíve stated above seem about right, given all Iíve said?

    Thank you for any and all help.
Page 1
    • Yorkshireman99
    • By Yorkshireman99 10th Jan 18, 10:33 AM
    • 3,522 Posts
    • 2,877 Thanks
    Yorkshireman99
    • #2
    • 10th Jan 18, 10:33 AM
    • #2
    • 10th Jan 18, 10:33 AM
    Hello, Iíve joined up purely to post here. My fianc!ís father has unexpectedly passed away. A great man and an enormous loss to us all.

    He has two children (my fianc! and her brother). Both of whom are very close (thankfully). He is divorced (twenty years ago) and is close with his ex wife and so; thereís to be no dispute, or issues that I can foresee, except; perhaps for an ex partner who helped in his business for a handful of years. More on that later.

    A will has been found with his solicitor - made back in 2004 stating his two children are to receive everything. The executor is a lawyer at said firm and he is still with them. So far so good.

    However the first alarm bell is that the Solicitors are stating that they are unable to give a cost for their services due to the large estate. I understand this but pressed them for a figure. Theyíve said anywhere between 15k up to 22k plus VAT. And this is with us (the family) doing all of the heavy lifting - i.e: valuations, estate assets listing with liabilities, etc. There should be little to no investigative work for them to do. So I find their charges a bit much.

    Theyíve said that they charge hourly and not on % of estate.

    The estate includes 14 properties and 12 vehicles with a few other more obscure assets. And so I understand itís not an average estate. Value might be £5,000,000 but with liabilities, it could go down to more like 2,700,000.

    The ONLY unknown is that an ex partner (as mentioned) might come out of the woodwork to make a claim; despite having been taken care of; morally sheís no right but when has that stopped people before

    And so, my questions are:

    1: with the size of the estate and variables therein; we are best to use a solicitor / specialist for probate, etc?

    2: can the two beneficiaries (my fianc! and her brother) change the executor? Can they not demand to be the executors themselves?

    3: if they cannot change the executor; should they stay with the law firm that the executor works for? For ease of refinement?

    4: if we are going to do all of the heavy work; can we get quotes from / use other Solicitors; even if the executor is at this other firm?

    5: do the costs Iíve stated above seem about right, given all Iíve said?

    Thank you for any and all help.
    Originally posted by MattWright
    If you are doing all the hard work that the3 fees are high. You can ask the soilicitor to give up the executorship in your favour but they may not agree. Wit an estate that size you will need to get proper paid for valuations by an RICS for each one. Estate agents estimates will not do. If the properties are going to be sold then the costs for that will be substantial.
    • Keep pedalling
    • By Keep pedalling 10th Jan 18, 10:40 AM
    • 4,316 Posts
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    Keep pedalling
    • #3
    • 10th Jan 18, 10:40 AM
    • #3
    • 10th Jan 18, 10:40 AM
    Normally I would not say this, but with an estate this size and complexity I would leave it with the professionals. You have no right to change the executors, but most solicitors will stand aside for a simple estate , which this is not.

    Your FIL probably choose to use solicitors for a good reason.
    • troubleinparadise
    • By troubleinparadise 10th Jan 18, 10:47 AM
    • 993 Posts
    • 1,652 Thanks
    troubleinparadise
    • #4
    • 10th Jan 18, 10:47 AM
    • #4
    • 10th Jan 18, 10:47 AM
    Iím with Keep pedalling on this - with an estate with a possible value of £5 million, fees of £20k are a drop in the ocean.

    You say you will be doing all valuations with many properties and a business etc.... Iíd recommend to buy in help. I donít know your level of experience nor expertise, but the tax, accurate valuations etc that will be needed for HMRC will be costly in time and headaches. Plus a possibly contentious issue with ex-partner? Donít underestimate the toll of dealing with all this on top of bereavement.

    Entirely up to you, but the beneficiaries can very much afford to ďloseĒ a relatively small amount out of such a large windfall for peace of mind.
    • Jenniefour
    • By Jenniefour 10th Jan 18, 10:54 AM
    • 1,298 Posts
    • 1,402 Thanks
    Jenniefour
    • #5
    • 10th Jan 18, 10:54 AM
    • #5
    • 10th Jan 18, 10:54 AM
    Normally I would not say this, but with an estate this size and complexity I would leave it with the professionals. You have no right to change the executors, but most solicitors will stand aside for a simple estate , which this is not.

    Your FIL probably choose to use solicitors for a good reason.
    Originally posted by Keep pedalling
    Same here. High value estate and it will take some sorting out, including IHT, paying off all liabilities etc. I don't think the fee you've been quoted is excessive for the complexity of the estate and the value of it, and for shouldering the responsibilities of executor. I was one of many beneficiaries of an estate worth one and half million before IHT, and the solicitors fee was about £17k - well every penny in my opinion. Too may possible (expensive) pitfalls for those who don't know exactly what they're doing.
    Last edited by Jenniefour; 10-01-2018 at 10:57 AM.
    • Tom99
    • By Tom99 10th Jan 18, 11:07 AM
    • 992 Posts
    • 608 Thanks
    Tom99
    • #6
    • 10th Jan 18, 11:07 AM
    • #6
    • 10th Jan 18, 11:07 AM
    An executor cannot charge the estate for their own time so what is it that allows solicitors who are appointed executor to charge?
    Does it have to be provided for in the will, or is other legislation involved?
    • MattWright
    • By MattWright 10th Jan 18, 11:16 AM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    MattWright
    • #7
    • 10th Jan 18, 11:16 AM
    • #7
    • 10th Jan 18, 11:16 AM
    Thank you for all of your replies. Truly appreciated.

    I think that from our side; whilst new to all of this; we all run our own businesses and are quick to get up to speed.

    If we are getting valuations and contacting loan providers; doing all of the digging; I find their costs to be too much.

    As for the valuations; yes we are getting a probate specific set of valuations done by RICS. Vehicle valuations will be done via Reg and mileage via industry books.

    The other point I hadn’t made is that in the first fortnight of activity; I’ve been deeply unimpressed with the Solicitors. They don’t seem to be as on the ball as we are; and we are new to all of this. I won’t go into details but I’m simple terms; I doubt their skill level in dealing with this estate and it’s one reason why we’ve decided to take much of the task on ourselves.

    Regarding the executor angle. So the executor cannot be forced to give up their role in favour of the beneficiaries (who are in agreement). The executor can only be ‘asked’ to?
    • Yorkshireman99
    • By Yorkshireman99 10th Jan 18, 11:22 AM
    • 3,522 Posts
    • 2,877 Thanks
    Yorkshireman99
    • #8
    • 10th Jan 18, 11:22 AM
    • #8
    • 10th Jan 18, 11:22 AM
    Thank you for all of your replies. Truly appreciated.

    I think that from our side; whilst new to all of this; we all run our own businesses and are quick to get up to speed.

    If we are getting valuations and contacting loan providers; doing all of the digging; I find their costs to be too much.

    As for the valuations; yes we are getting a probate specific set of valuations done by RICS. Vehicle valuations will be done via Reg and mileage via industry books.

    The other point I hadn’t made is that in the first fortnight of activity; I’ve been deeply unimpressed with the Solicitors. They don’t seem to be as on the ball as we are; and we are new to all of this. I won’t go into details but I’m simple terms; I doubt their skill level in dealing with this estate and it’s one reason why we’ve decided to take much of the task on ourselves.

    Regarding the executor angle. So the executor cannot be forced to give up their role in favour of the beneficiaries (who are in agreement). The executor can only be ‘asked’ to?
    Originally posted by MattWright
    You are unlikely to be able to force the executor to give up. If you are doing all the hard work I would expect their fee to be less that £5K. They will be filling out the forms and dealing with HMRC. 20 hours at £250 should be ample plus of course normal fees if you are selling the properties
    Last edited by Yorkshireman99; 10-01-2018 at 3:29 PM.
    • Keep pedalling
    • By Keep pedalling 10th Jan 18, 11:41 AM
    • 4,316 Posts
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    Keep pedalling
    • #9
    • 10th Jan 18, 11:41 AM
    • #9
    • 10th Jan 18, 11:41 AM
    An executor cannot charge the estate for their own time so what is it that allows solicitors who are appointed executor to charge?
    Does it have to be provided for in the will, or is other legislation involved?
    Originally posted by Tom99
    Because the deceased appointed a professional to do so knowing it would be charged for. If they were not allowed to charge then they would not take on the role, and with some estates a professional is essential.

    One advantage of using a solicitor is that they have PI insurance, so if they muck it up, the beneficiaries can recover any losses, this is not always the case with an amateur executor.
    • TonyMMM
    • By TonyMMM 10th Jan 18, 11:48 AM
    • 2,543 Posts
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    TonyMMM
    Not charging a % of the estate value is going to save them a lot (many solicitors will charge 2%+ and their hourly rate on top).

    I agree with the other posters - 20k is nothing compared to the estate size (and potential complications).
    • Yorkshireman99
    • By Yorkshireman99 10th Jan 18, 11:53 AM
    • 3,522 Posts
    • 2,877 Thanks
    Yorkshireman99
    Not charging a % of the estate value is going to save them a lot (many solicitors will charge 2%+ and their hourly rate on top).

    I agree with the other posters - 20k is nothing compared to the estate size (and potential complications).
    Originally posted by TonyMMM
    Given the work involved £20K is unreasonable unless the Op has not told us something.
    • Keep pedalling
    • By Keep pedalling 10th Jan 18, 12:03 PM
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    Keep pedalling
    Given the work involved £20K is unreasonable unless the Op has not told us something.
    Originally posted by Yorkshireman99
    At the moment it is a finger in the air job, and the solicitor has guesstimated it on a number of hours and no one really knows how much time will be involved. The only way they give a fixed cost would be based on a percentage of estate, which will be horribly expensive.

    The solicitor will need to provide a breakdown of costs so it will be based on actual hours involved, so the only way to keep costs down to to take on as much of the work as possible. There would seem to be a business to be dealt with here as well which is likely to increase costs.
    • Linton
    • By Linton 10th Jan 18, 12:15 PM
    • 8,850 Posts
    • 8,881 Thanks
    Linton
    I side with the majority here. £20K is a small % of the total. Bearing in mind they will be taking on liability for errors it is a small price to pay.
    • Yorkshireman99
    • By Yorkshireman99 10th Jan 18, 12:19 PM
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    • 2,877 Thanks
    Yorkshireman99
    I side with the majority here. £20K is a small % of the total. Bearing in mind they will be taking on liability for errors it is a small price to pay.
    Originally posted by Linton
    If the solicitor is, as it seems, going to charge on the basis of the time actually taken then the estate value is not relevant. Their PI cover will be based on the whole year not estate by estate.
    • MattWright
    • By MattWright 10th Jan 18, 12:26 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    MattWright
    Thank you all again.

    We are booking in to see the Solicitors - I want to ask them face to face for a breakdown of their expected work / responsibilities throughout the process, given we will be doing X, Y and Z.

    I’ve now found out that their costs are officially £220 per hour and £260 per hour for the senior / executor.

    Plus the VAT.

    Ouch.
    • Yorkshireman99
    • By Yorkshireman99 10th Jan 18, 12:40 PM
    • 3,522 Posts
    • 2,877 Thanks
    Yorkshireman99
    Thank you all again.

    We are booking in to see the Solicitors - I want to ask them face to face for a breakdown of their expected work / responsibilities throughout the process, given we will be doing X, Y and Z.

    I’ve now found out that their costs are officially £220 per hour and £260 per hour for the senior / executor.

    Plus the VAT.

    Ouch.
    Originally posted by MattWright
    That is not out of all proportion but you are correct to ask. Whilst youi will be doing much of the donkey work they will be able to just take your word for the figures you give them. They will need proof of the figures.
    Last edited by Yorkshireman99; 10-01-2018 at 3:31 PM.
    • getmore4less
    • By getmore4less 10th Jan 18, 1:21 PM
    • 31,168 Posts
    • 18,679 Thanks
    getmore4less
    I suspect they have gone high to protect themselves if you bottle it at some point.


    this could be very simple or quite complex depending on the structure of the estate.
    If there are assets wrapped up in business then it is none obvious how to deal with each type of legal business structure on death, it is not that hard to research the basics quite quickly.

    If you can deal with the drudgery of the basics of the inventory then it should be possible to keep the costs under control by having the solicitors dealing with specific tasks, they will need to be up to speed on the inventory and the tax position both capital and income if they are going to be dealing with HMRC.

    Ideally you want to get to the stage where you can present the solicitors with the full set of IHT400 forms filled in and a proposal for paying the IHT resolving the debts and distributing the assets.

    also have prepared the final year to DOD tax returns and have a clear idea of any tax implications during administration
    • Tom99
    • By Tom99 10th Jan 18, 1:43 PM
    • 992 Posts
    • 608 Thanks
    Tom99
    Because the deceased appointed a professional to do so knowing it would be charged for. If they were not allowed to charge then they would not take on the role, and with some estates a professional is essential.

    One advantage of using a solicitor is that they have PI insurance, so if they muck it up, the beneficiaries can recover any losses, this is not always the case with an amateur executor.
    Originally posted by Keep pedalling
    I appreciate that's what everyone expects to happen but under what authority can the professional executor charge for their own time. I would think that either the will should allow it or there must be some other legislation which allows it?
    • Keep pedalling
    • By Keep pedalling 10th Jan 18, 2:02 PM
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    Keep pedalling
    I appreciate that's what everyone expects to happen but under what authority can the professional executor charge for their own time. I would think that either the will should allow it or there must be some other legislation which allows it?
    Originally posted by Tom99
    The testator does it by appointing them as executors and signing the will. The testator would have been given the terms of service at the time. Executors are acting for the estate they are not employed by the beneficiaries.
    • Jenniefour
    • By Jenniefour 10th Jan 18, 2:12 PM
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    Jenniefour
    I appreciate that's what everyone expects to happen but under what authority can the professional executor charge for their own time. I would think that either the will should allow it or there must be some other legislation which allows it?
    Originally posted by Tom99
    Why would solicitors administer an estate and not charge for it? They are not charging for their own personal time, they are charging for their billable hours to do the job. Very different from lay executors. There is no legislation that prevents solicitors from charging for their work as executor or on anything else to do with probate.
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