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Solicitor's fees for probate - a tad early?


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Hello guys, I hope the brains here can help me please.

 

I am executor for my aunt, with another family member and a partner from the firm of lawyers who drew up the will and were nominated as executors with us. The papers have been submitted to the probate office by the lawyers and they have now submitted an interim invoice for over £5000 to us as executors.

 

I had, perhaps naively, assumed that the bill would be due after probate was granted and the assets were distributed. Would we normally be expected to pay a bill ourselves at this stage? Do we have the authority to say that the lawyer can take the fees from the estate assets?

 

We have incurred expenses personally on behalf of the estate that haven't been paid so far and now they seem to be asking us for money.

 

This doesn't seem right.

 

What do the experts think please?

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hello guys, I hope the brains here can help me please.

 

I am executor for my aunt, with another family member and a partner from the firm of lawyers who drew up the will and were nominated as executors with us. The papers have been submitted to the probate office by the lawyers and they have now submitted an interim invoice for over £5000 to us as executors.

 

I had, perhaps naively, assumed that the bill would be due after probate was granted and the assets were distributed. Would we normally be expected to pay a bill ourselves at this stage? Do we have the authority to say that the lawyer can take the fees from the estate assets?

 

We have incurred expenses personally on behalf of the estate that haven't been paid so far and now they seem to be asking us for money.

 

This doesn't seem right.

 

What do the experts think please?

 

HB

 

They can take the fees from the estate, if e.g. there are cash balances in bank accounts.

 

They can't take the IHT from the estate though, if IHT is payable.

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They can take the fees from the estate, if e.g. there are cash balances in bank accounts.

 

They can't take the IHT from the estate though, if IHT is payable.

 

Thank you Bazza, I hoped that was the case. There is cash avaiable in the estate, but the lawyer hasn't mentioned this.

 

The other executor and I are both minor beneficiaries in this estate. Having gone through the experience a couple of times, I have to say that being an executor is an expensive and time consuming gig. I don't think I'll agree to doing it again.

 

Best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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at the end, if their fees seem alot, can also get it 'taxed' (assessed)

 

Thank you Ford, I'll remember that.

 

At this stage, it's more about whether the executors should be billed personally for the estate's expenses. I shall remember what you said though, for future reference. :)

 

Best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Ford, you're a star. I'll have read, thank you. The accompanying letter doesn't state if they expect payment now exactly. It just says they are submitting their interim invoice for charges up to submitting the probate application. No explication about payment.

 

I'll post when I can about the terms, may be tomorrow.

 

HB x

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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At this stage, it's more about whether the executors should be billed personally for the estate's expenses.

 

It is (generally) the estate that is the "client" in probate matters, so that is where the funds to pay the bill should come from. £5,000 does seem to be quite a lot just for preparing the papers and applying for probate. That said, I would expect the final bill to be equivalent to around 2%-5% of the value of the estate.

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HB, I can't claim to be an expert on this but I have been Executor a few times, initially through solicitor but more recently done it myself without using a solicitor. My understanding is that if the Executor instructs solicitors to act for them then legally they are responsible for paying the firm they have instructed, but the Executors are then entitled to be reimbursed/indemnified for those costs out of the Estate. This potentially can cause problems for the Executors if there isn't enough cash in the Estate to meet the bills (eg, if property needs to be sold first).

 

This is different from the situation where the deceased had incurred debts before they died. Executors aren't personally responsible for paying those before Probate.

 

Your case is slightly different though because the solicitor hasn't been INSTRUCTED by the Executors, the solicitor IS an Executor. Presumably the Solicitor isn't acting on instructions from you and the other family member, but is acting as Executor. Therefore I don't think you and other family member can be asked to pay the solicitor's interim bill personally. The solicitor probably has to wait until Probate is granted before getting paid. Also check what the Will says. Generally Executors cannot be paid but there is an exception where an Executor is acting in a professional capacity, eg as a solicitor. The power to pay a solicitor Executor should be written into the Will and might say something about how that payment should be made.

 

If the Probate application has already gone in it shouldn't be long providing the Estate isn't near or over the IHT threshold. I'm currently Executor to the small Estate of my Uncle, I submitted Probate application 12th February and received the Grant of Probate on 7th March.

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Thank you for that very clear explanation, Ethel.

 

To my shame, I omitted to update this thread. The solicitor dealing with probate is not the one who is acting as executor, they work for the same firm.

 

When I queried whether we were to pay the fees, it turned out that the information we were given hadn't been complete. The position is that they would like to submit an interim bill now, to be claimed from the first available funds from the estate once probate is granted. This invoice isn't itemised, I would hope that there will be an itemised one before the final bill.

 

Probate was granted a few days ago, so I imagine we'll be moving on now.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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