lawyers probate fees

Ho hum.
Given the situation that a *firm of lawyers has been named executors*, is there ANY way to limit the fees they will charge?
currently 1.5% of the gross estate value plus hourly rates plus VAT. Probably around 18 grand for a few hours work?
'license to print money' springs to mind here..
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Thsi ahppened to my mate about a year ago. Dad named solicitor as executor and then 25 years later he snuffed it. AMte couldn't find any way out of it. Solicitor just said "I am following the wishes of the deceased".

A few hours work isn't fair but it is likely to be very remunerative.
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Mike Lewis wrote:

Mmm. A quick look at the law society guide to non contentious work suggests this is at the upper end of 'fair charges'..
What I want to know is what recourse, if any, there is, before I sign the letter of engagement.
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If you have a trusted family solicitor who you have used before, for example for conveyancing, why not ask them if they consider the figure you have been quoted to be reasonable or too high?
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Why would you be signing a letter of engagement? He is appoiunted according to the will. Will he decline to do the work if you refuse to sign?

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Mike Lewis wrote:

That is an interesting point: Teh firm of solicitors is co executor to my sister, who is passing me power of attorney to act as executor.
No fees are mentioned in the will. \

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If there is no charging clause in the will then the solicitor cannot be paid out of the estate unless the other executor agrees. I suggest you ask them to resign their executorship and act yourself. I am surprised the solicitor is trying to get paid in this way.
Peter Crosland
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The Natural Philosopher wrote:

I was in a similar position as co-executor with a solicitor for my mother in law (no jokes please ;=) ) When she died I simply asked the solicitor for her will and informed them that I would be dealing with the estate. I had to obtain probate as there was her share of the house we jointly owned involved but there were no problems IIRC all that probate invoved was finding out the assets and liabilities and listing them on the form (copius notes accompanied it). There was then a trip to the County Court to swear on oath that what was declared on the form was correct. After a suitable fee changed hands Probate was granted. If you can work carefully and logically it is easy. The solicitor will be asking you about the assets and liabilities anyway.
Malcolm
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Malcolm wrote:

I have no issues with any of that, I have no issues with the solicitors don it all for us and making a couple of grand : I do object to nearly 20 grand though.
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Then your sister needs to tell the solicitor she will be handling all of the work at no charge and they are free to help on the same basis.
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Mike Lewis wrote:

Because in case where the soicitors have been sued for such, the law society reccomends that they get a schedule of charges deemed fair and reasonable (and this is exactly at the maximum) to be presented.
To be an executor is one thing: to actually process probate, is another.
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The actual probate part is probably the easiset bit! The bulk of the work is simple but very time consuming. It really is within the capability of a person of average intelligence. Which publish and excellent book on the subject.
Peter Crosland
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wrote:

A solicitor is entitled to reasonable fees for the work, not a ridiculous one.
The 1.5% was probably set when it was a small amount and the hourly rate needed to bring it up.
The only thing you can do is wait for the work to be completed and then go to the Law Society with the facts and ask: Is a fee of x satisfactory for the amount of work done on this case?
It will be a simple matter for them to decide as fees are a mechanical process item per item.
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EricP wrote:

Sadly the Law society seems to say that 1.5% up to a million plus hourly ates is 'fair and reasonable'. At least in one place it does.In another it suggests 1% for probate plus 0.5% for dealing with property disposal of the house kind.
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I don't believe that a percentage fee in such circumstances can be justified. Why exactly are you being asked to OK the fee? If you are a joint executor and can deal with matter why not ask the solicitor to resign his post?
Peter Crosland
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In such cases if one thinks the fee is too high, an appeal to the 'Taxing Master' (nothing to do with Inland Revenue) at the court is possible.
In Property Reversionary and Investment Company v Secretary for the Environment, the Secretary thought that legal fees associated with taking land for a public work was too high. the Taxing Master's decision was appealed, and the judgment included: "The object of the exercise, whether a solicitor ois preparing a bill of costs in relation to non-contentious business, or the Law Society is certifying such a bill, or the court is taxing (re-assessing) it, is to arrive at a sum which is fair and reasonable, having regard for all the circumstances. It is an exercise in assessment, an exercise in balanced judgmentb - not an arithmetical calculation. It is wrong always to start by assessing the direct and indirect expenses of the solicitor, represented by the time spnt on the business. This must always be taken into account, but it is not necessarily, or even usually, a basic factor to which all others are related. Thus, although the labour included will usually be directly related to, and reflected by, the time spent, the skill and specialised knowledge involved may vary greatly for different parts of that time. Again not all time spent on a transaction necessarily lends itself to being recorded, although the fullest possible records should be kept."
This supports basing the fee partly on value of the work, even for non contentious matters.
What is more important, is to make sure all the beneficiaries sing with one voice. If beneficiaries squabble, legal fees will go through the roof. This happened in New Zealand. A, B, C and D shared equally. 'A' lived in the family home and wanted to buy the others out (C and D agreed). 'B' was adamant she wanted to have the family home. A trustee company was the executor and the fees went through the roof with the squabbling. A, C and D wanted to remove the executor for not agreeing with the majority of the beneficiaries. That was not the executor's duty - the executor's duty is to distribute the estate in accordance with the testator's wishes. I do not know what the company did, but the obvious answer would have been to put the house on the market and let A and B make offers in the usual way.
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EricP wrote:

Mmm. In this article, it says that you can in fact sack a professional executor and appoint another in their place.
http://www.andrew-hamilton.co.uk/root/news/article_01.htm
Is this true?
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Well it says that the other executors can fire one of their own. It doesn't say anything about a non-executor firing an executor. I did hear of a case where a co-executor told a solicitor executor that the solicitor was welcome to stick around and help on condition he also worked for free. Solicitor resigned.
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> Mmm. In this article, it says that you can in fact sack a professional

Just a thought but... An executor's duly is to consider the interest of the deceased's estate as a whole so perhaps you could argue that they are obliged to stand down and allow someone cheaper to do it. back it up with a cheaper quote. They might agree to match it.
I couldn't google much.. .
http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2006/sep/09/inheritancetax.tax "..they will not sack themselves and are virtually impossible to remove."
http://www.apww.co.uk/Your%20questions.htm
"Solicitors and banks have a terrible habit of refusing to be fired as executor unless they are paid their FULL fee, even if they have done nothing. Not all will do this, but you should never appoint one without written confirmation that they will stand down if requested and charge only for the time spent."
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My brother had his solicitor an myself as joint executors (and trustees). He suggested that I did the easy stuff (utility bills, house clearance and sale) while he dealt with probate, the tax, and distribution. He was charging an hourly rate and gave me a pretty accurate up-front estimate. It all worked very well, I always felt sufficiently in control, and they were always quick, responsive, and helpful. After the estate was proved they were more than happy to resign and appoint another family member as the second trustee for a legacy to a minor. I'd certainly consider doing this myself if I wanted to give my family some choice.
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