Choose unwisely, it’ll cost thousands £’s !!!
Not the first thing you’d think of but one you should, remember… you wont be here. And the whole point of your wishes being fulfilled could be gobbled up in unexpected fees, and they could be massive compared to the value of your estate.
The content of your will is simply a matter of amassing and dispersing monies in accordance within the rules of Probate and to whom as stipulated by you. It is not shrouded in mystery nor is it an onerous duty so why expect to pay through the nose then… when for years you’ve been careful and cautious for most of your life (well I hope you’ve been).
Fees and expenses are deducted first, before the Estate is distributed. And it can cost more to challenge after the event.
Very simply it’s down to WHOM
Therefore now is the time to do some homework. If you want a Solicitor to handle the Probate pick a bunch of them and write/email them asking for a itemised quote.
You’ll want to know how much they charge for letters, phone calls, sending cheques, and preparing an account at the end. They might have done the Will or about to, do they do an all-in price?
If you don’t ask, you’ll never know! But your beneficiaries could find out the hard way!! Expect a % fee quote plus an approximate amount for disbursements + vat, so give them a rough idea of how much you anticipate your estate to be. It will give a benchmark. For good reason.*
On average the fee part should be between 1.5 – 5%, if it’s more think again! You’ll see why later.**
You may choose to use a Bank. You may think you have to. You will be wrong! At the last time I checked using a Bank (many years ago) I was quoted a fee of 15% + disbursements + vat.
My love affair with Banks began and ended on that day. You are encouraged to follow that trait.
There is only one rule to follow. Ask……! It means discussing it, being frank and honest, and the opportunity for them to say NO now rather than later. In law you can refuse to be Executor. It also allows for you to make Joint Executors, again discuss, a third party can be more objective at the time when your partner/spouse might not feel up to the job. And it is a JOB. They can also pick up on things otherwise missed.
If one disagrees it would also stop them going off at a tangent as both must agree. If you do ask a third party say you will pay them. Yes I said PAY.
Offer an honorarium of say £250. A legitimate expense as is the cost of postage and phone calls and so on, all recoverable from the Estate. Should you wish to have your children involved they must be of legal age, but involve them anyway to show them how its done. It is after all a part of learning.
The thing is, this is an easy job. The ‘hard’ bit is writing the Will and that in my book is simple as having a telephone. Keep It Simple. However, this is about Executors not Will Writing. Moreover, it is about being stung for charges you shouldn’t have pay.
Above all this is about the trust of your loved ones, and/or your best friends. Yes it may be for a very rare few that you’ll need a Solicitor, but as this is to solve a problem say, it is not acting as Executor in the whole. Therefore costs are cheaper, similar to normal litigation as it were – if that’s ever cheap!
Always ask first, even your partner/spouse. If they choose to delegate the matter, remind them that it will cost more at the end of the day. Fact of life, and I apologise for showing no emotion about this but you have to.
Offer to pay any third party, it’s not rude. Obtain now simple How To… books on probate, find and print free template letters off the internet so you can give a package or a bundle. Think about doing a dry run on yourself so you know what’s involved and if you get the chance, do one for someone else. In a way you’ll iron out the problems.
Do think of Joint Executors particularly if you don’t want to leave too much for your partner/spouse to worry about, but make sure you nominate the person NOT a Company. Always use their home address.
Should you wish to change Executor/s make a Codicil or a new Will. Tell them as well, you don’t want them turning up not to do a job.
…just check for fees, NOW!
NB: Since my Father died Intestate I’ve acted as Administrator and Executor eight times. I’ve had one major problem with the then Customs & Excise which was solved by my worst enemy, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer. It took less than a week and consisted of two phone calls. Job satisfaction bar none. The rest was plain sailing and any agro I put down to petty jobs-worth idiots and plain ignorance. As far as I am concerned I’ve always waived any fee, but not expenses. But I’m not in it for profit. And I’ve acted as a Joint Executor twice purely in an advisory role. My peers did very well without me.
* You must remember that it is the total value, including your property which makes up the Estate. And % fees are based on that total. OUCH!
All fees are and expenses are deducted before the distribution of the Estate, inevitably it will cost more to challenge after the event than before.
** My late Aunt and Uncle used an old family friend (I’ll call John) to draw up and act as Executor to their joint Wills. When my Aunt died some fifteen years after her husband, my Mother as the last sibling became heir.
When we eventually found the Will, my Mother was about to contact, as per the Will, John to notify him. This is where I stepped in.
John was a Solicitor and had had two sons, the elder also called John!? Much time had passed, had he died too? This was confirmed as a consequence after I wrote to the original John xxxxx C/O John xxxxx Solicitors. Making the distinction between the two.
Had my Mother contacted John xxxxx Solicitor innocently asking them to act, as she thought as per the Will, they would have charged 5% plus disbursements + vat. Because she would have invited ‘them’ to act.
Needless to say I ended up playing Executrix for my Mother and the Estate saved a few thousand as a consequence.