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Estate Administration

Wills, Tax & Estate Administration

Meet Charlotte Nock

We appreciate that the loss of a loved one is an emotional and stressful time and we offer sympathetic support and advice in dealing with the complexities involved in administering an estate.

Understanding the process can be overwhelming during this difficult period and we hope our guide below will help to simplify the process.

Our probate lawyers are equally experienced in administering large, complex or straightforward estates, dealing with all probate and Inheritance Tax matters and tax affairs of the deceased for the period up to the date of death and also during the administration period.

We can also advise beneficiaries on a Deed of Variation, an opportunity to vary their inheritance, 'generation skipping' for the protection of the beneficiary or his or her family against Inheritance Tax. If a Will or an estate is contested, we can also help.


Probate is the term generally used to describe the process of administering someone’s estate when they die. It may be necessary to obtain a Grant of Representation (where there is a Will) or Grant of Letters of Administration (where there is no Will i.e an intestacy) in order to administer the estate and deal with the assets. A Grant of Representation is an order of the court which gives one or more people the legal authority to enable the estate to be collected in and divided between their beneficiaries.


An intestacy arises when someone dies without leaving a valid Will. The intestacy rules determine who can administer and who is entitled to the Intestate’s estate. The rules on intestacy rarely follow what someone would wish to happen with the distribution of their estate.

It is therefore very important that one not only has a Will but to ensure that it is made in accordance with the relevant legislation governing Wills and as a result is valid to prevent an intestacy arising on their death.

Deed of Variation

If you have received an inheritance from an estate which you wish to redirect to another beneficiary then provided this is completed within two years of the date of death, a Deed of Variation may be suitable in your circumstances.

Usually, if you make a gift during your lifetime but die within seven years of the date of the gift then the value of the gift is added to your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes. By completing a Deed of Variation the gift is treated as a gift from the estate of the deceased and as a result may have tax advantages for both Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax purposes. If you are considering making a gift after receiving an inheritance, please contact our Wills, Tax & Estate Administration team as soon as possible for further advice.

Foreign estates

Our Solicitors have the expertise to offer advice in respect of foreign assets and estates and are able to administer such estates including liaising with foreign lawyers and resealing Grants of Representation in England and Wales if necessary.

Estates may often include foreign assets which may complicate dealing with the administration of the estate but we are able to offer support and advice in dealing with the encashment, sale or transfer of assets in foreign jurisdictions

Our fees

Where Girlings is instructed in administering an estate we will:

  • Step 1: Ascertain the assets and liabilities within the estate
  • Step 2: Prepare the required Inheritance Tax Return and arrange the settlement of any Inheritance Tax due
  • Step 3: Prepare the Legal Statement for signing by the Executor(s) or Administrator(s)
  • Step 4: Apply for and obtain the Grant of Representation
  • Step 5: Collect in assets and settle liabilities
  • Step 6: Prepare Estate Accounts
  • Step 7: Deal with the tax affairs of the estate relating to the period up until the date of death and the period of administration
  • Step 8: Arrange distributions to beneficiaries and the transfer of assets.

A number of disbursements/associated costs are likely to be incurred during estate administration. These are quoted exclusive of VAT at the prevailing rate:

  • Probate fee – the current probate fee payable to Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service is £273.
  • Sealed copies of the Grant of Representation – £1.50 each at time of application.
  • Bankruptcy searches - £2.00 per name.
  • Dealing with the Grant of Representation only with an IHT205 - £1,250
  • For IHT400 and obtaining the Grant of Representation- from £2,500

As well as the above disbursements, if a legal advisor deals with the estate administration on behalf of an Executor or Administrator, legal fees will be incurred.

Girlings’ fees in relation to estate administration are calculated on the basis of the time actually spent administering the estate in accordance with your instructions. The Wills, Tax & Estate Administration department’s current hourly rates (exclusive of VAT at the prevailing rate) are as follows:

Partners and Consultants

£285 - £315

Financial Services Advisors



£210 - £280

Tax Advisor



£160 - £230

Trainee Solicitors


Every estate is different and varies by size and complexity. Our fees can be affected by the number and value of assets in the estate, whether there is a Will, and the number of beneficiaries. By way of an estimate, we usually find that our fees amount to approximately 3% of the gross value of the estate excluding VAT. The gross value of the estate is the total value of all assets within the estate before the deduction of any debts and liabilities. The following example is for illustrative purposes only and is not a guarantee of the fees that you will pay, which will be determined by your specific situation:

Example: If an estate is worth £300,000, Girlings’ legal fees are likely to be in the region of £9,000 plus VAT.

Where further fees arise during estate administration, we will advise you immediately. If any aspect of probate becomes disputed, additional fees will apply.

How long does estate administration process take?

The amount of time that is spent administering an estate depends on the assets and liabilities within the estate, the nature of any other matters that arise during estate administration and the extent of our instructions.

It is usually possible to complete steps 1, 2, 3 and 4, as outlined in the Our fees section above, within three months of receiving instructions; this is subject to any delay by HM Revenue and Customs and other third parties. Once the application for the Grant of Representation has been submitted, we ordinarily receive the Grant of Representation within 20 days. The amount of time that it will take to collect in assets and settle liabilities depends entirely on the nature of the assets within the estate; we will be able to advise you in this regard as matters progress.

For further advice on Estate Administration, please contact a member of our Wills, Tax & Estate Administration team based in Canterbury, Ashford and Herne Bay.

Our Experts

Charlotte Nock

Head of Department
Wills, Tax & Estate Administration

Lesley Rushton

Managing Partner
Wills, Tax & Estate Administration

Louise Wilson

Wills, Tax & Estate Administration

Ovid Busette

Senior Associate Solicitor
Wills, Tax & Estate Administration

Joshua Parton TEP

Senior Associate Solicitor
Wills, Tax & Estate Administration

Poppy Cooke

Associate Solicitor
Wills, Tax & Estate Administration

Sarah Geering

Senior Associate Solicitor
Wills, Tax & Estate Administration

Katie Collis

Assistant Solicitor
Wills, Tax & Estate Administration

Susan Jull

Wills, Tax & Estate Administration Executive
Wills, Tax & Estate Administration

Laura Harvey

Assistant Solicitor
Wills, Tax & Estate Administration

Natasha Boyd

Tax Technician
Wills, Tax & Estate Administration

Stephanie Stocker

Assistant Solicitor
Wills, Tax & Estate Administration

Sophia Wright

Wills, Tax & Estate Administration; Dispute Resolution

Charlotte Goodwin

Trainee Solicitor
Wills, Tax & Estate Administration

Related Pages


What is a Grant of Probate?