How Much Does Probate Cost?

The cost of probate can be an unwelcome expense when a loved one passes away. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a grant of probate? 

A grant of probate, included in a grant of representation, is a document giving the executor permission to handle a person’s estate.

This means paying debts on the deceased person’s behalf and distributing their belongings in accordance with their wishes. This process is also known as probate.

How much does an estate have to be worth to go to probate in the UK?

Probate is required when someone passes away and leaves behind an estate with a value of £5,000 or more.

What is the average cost of probate in the UK?

1% and 5% of the value of the estate (plus VAT) is usually how how probate fees are calculated in the UK. Estates that have a smaller value are likelier to have a more fixed fee. Individual circumstances will determine exact costs overall.

Calculating the actual average cost is difficult because it depends on different factors in each person's personal situations.

What are the probate costs across the UK? 

If the estate is valued under £5,000 then applying for probate is free. If it’s worth more than that, it costs: 

  • £273 in England and Wales (although this is lowered to £155 if you apply through a solicitor
  • £200 in Scotland (note that in Scotland the process is slightly different and is called confirmation
  • £220 in Northern Ireland 

There are also additional fees associated with probate. Such fees vary depending on different circumstances. Factors can include how complex the estate is and whether you apply yourself or with the help of a legal professional.

It’s also worth paying to get several extra copies of the grant of probate – the standard is at least 5 extras. If you get them at the time, they cost just £1.50 per copy. 

How much do solicitors charge for probate? 

The cost of hiring a solicitor carry out your probate varies significantly. It will depend on the value and complexity of the estate, as well as the methods different firms use to calculate their fees. 

You can usually expect somewhere between 1 and 5 per cent of the value of the estate to be spent on probate fees. So, if the estate is valued at £100,000 your probate fees may range between £200 and £1,000. This doesn’t include VAT or any court or fees. 

Some firms also charge an hourly rate on top of that. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be more expensive, as they may take a lower percentage of the estate value. There are also some firms that offer a fixed fee based on an estimate of the work involved. Most banks offer similar administration services, but often at a higher price than a solicitor or specialist probate company. 

Probate fees can be calculated in various ways, making it difficult to determine if you're getting a good deal. Perhaps you’re an executor and you’re looking for someone to administer the estate on your behalf. Comparing prices from a number of firms is a great way to ensure you’re getting the best service for the best price. 

Do I need to apply for probate? 

If you’re the executor of a will, you’ll need to apply for probate to administer their estate. Usually, the will states who the executor(s) will be. 

Only one person can apply for probate. However, if there are multiple executors named in the will then up to four can be named on the application.  

Maybe there are multiple executors named in the will but only one executor on the application. If so, the lone executor will need to prove that they attempted to contact all other executors prior to making the application. 

If you’ve been named as an executor but you don’t want to apply for probate, you have several options: 

If a person dies without a will, the rules of intestacy come into play and any beneficiary can request a grant. This person is known as an ‘administrator’ as opposed to an ‘executor’. They will apply for a grant of ‘letters of administration’, not ‘probate’. 

When you don’t need probate 

In most cases obtaining probate will be a necessary step. However, you may not need to if: 

  • The deceased’s assets were all jointly owned, as they’ll automatically pass onto the surviving owner(s) 
  • The deceased only had savings or premium bonds 

As each organisation (e.g. banks) has their own rules about distributing assets, you’ll need to contact each asset holder to find out whether they require you to obtain a grant of probate.  

Can you do probate without a solicitor? 

Yes – hiring a solicitor is entirely your choice and it’s possible to carry out the whole process yourself. 

However, it’s estimated that the probate process usually takes between 9 and 12 months to finalise. It can be even longer if the estate is complex or if problems occur. These could include difficulty in locating a beneficiary or someone contesting the will.

There’s a lot to do in the administering of an deceased's estate. Many people choose to appoint a solicitor to work on their behalf.   

The price of applying for probate changes depending on how simple the case is and how big the estate is. Whether or not you’re happy to pay solicitor’s fees on top of that is entirely a personal decision, but many people find having an experienced professional guide them through the process makes them feel more confident.