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SRA price transparency

SRA Transparency Rules  - Maurice Turnor Gardner’s fees for Probate, Immigration and residential Real Estate

Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP works as efficiently as possible and only charges for the time we spend on a matter and relevant third party expenses, which are listed below in relation to Probate, Immigration and residential Real Estate.

Our fees include all time recorded in our time keeping system and we are always willing and able to provide a breakdown of time spent by each person, together with expenses and any other costs.  Hourly rates charged by the firm range from £205 for trainees (and, in the case of our real estate practice, £150 for trainee legal executives) to £610 for senior partners.  In addition, VAT at a rate of 20% is charged on our fees and related third party expenses where required under UK law.  We charge on a cost recovery basis for third party expenses.

We will normally provide cost estimates at the outset of all matters.  These cost estimates are not capped or fixed fees and our actual costs may be more or less than the estimated amount.  The conduct of other parties and other unexpected complications which emerge during the course of the matter may affect both the cost of our work and how long it takes for the matter to be concluded.  We monitor the time recorded and advise our clients if the estimate is likely to be exceeded.

PROBATE WORK 

The process

When a person dies, those dealing with their estate are called the personal representatives.  In its simplest form, their role is to collect in and distribute all the assets of the deceased.  This is a two-stage process: 

  • Obtaining the grant: the personal representatives must prove that they have the right to deal with the deceased’s assets: this is called obtaining the grant of representation, or the grant of probate.  The inheritance tax return must be sent, and any inheritance tax due must be paid, to HMRC before an application can be made for the grant of probate.  Our services for obtaining the grant will include drafting and submitting the inheritance tax return and the oath which the personal representatives must swear.  
  • Administration of the estate: the personal representatives must then identify and collect in the deceased’s assets (this may include their home, personal belongings, bank account balances, investments etc.), pay the outstanding liabilities of the deceased and then distribute the balance according to the deceased’s Will or, if there is no Will, the laws of intestacy.   

Our specialities

We advise on a wide range of complex probates often involving international aspects and high values.  We are well-placed to assist and support personal representatives, executors and families during this inevitably difficult time.  We also advise private banks on the legal, practical and tax issues which are relevant to them in the event of the death of a client.

Even the simplest of probate processes may take up to a year to complete, for example, up to six months to obtain the grant of representation and a further six months to collect in and distribute all of the assets in the deceased’s estate.  A complex estate may take much longer.

Our fees

We charge for our services on a time spent basis with reference to the hours recorded in our time keeping system.  We do not charge a percentage of the value of the estate. 

The team

The team working on a probate matter will usually consist of a partner, an associate and often a trainee.  Details of the “probate team” can be seen via the probate page on our website.  

Third party expenses

Typical third party in expenses in probate matters which may charged in addition to our fees include:

  • the probate application fee of £155
  • swearing of the oath (£5 per personal representative) and witnessing of supporting documents by a solicitor or notary (£2 per document)
  • placing an advertisement in the London Gazette to protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors (£62.15-84.60)

Inheritance tax and any other taxes are charged in addition to our fees and will vary depending on the size and the nature of the assets in the estate. 

Depending on each individual client, different levels of help will be required.  Some wish and are able to act independently in the administration but others may require assistance at each stage of the process.  Our level of involvement will significantly affect the level of fees we charge as more hours will be expended where the personal representatives are in need of more support in the administration period. 

No individual’s personal financial affairs are exactly the same and our fees will reflect the personal representatives’ particular requirements in the circumstances.  Factors which can affect the amount we charge and how long the administration process will take include:

  • The nature of the assets in the estate.
  • Whether any assets are held overseas.
  • Whether the deceased died in the UK or abroad.
  • The domicile of the deceased.
  • Whether there is a valid Will.
  • Whether the validity of the Will is called into question.
  • Whether the executors named in the Will are willing and able to act.
  • Whether UK inheritance tax (or the equivalent in another country) is payable.
  • Whether any reliefs or exemptions from inheritance tax apply.
  • The deceased’s marital status.
  • Whether there are any dispositions to charity in the Will. 
  • The amount and type of liabilities outstanding against the estate.
  • The level of support the personal representatives require in relation to the administration.  Some personal representatives may wish to undertake much of the work themselves or through their accountants.
  • Actions and behaviours of third parties such as the probate registry, HMRC, companies in which the deceased held an interest and banks with which the deceased had accounts.
  • The identity and number of beneficiaries under the Will and whether there are any beneficiaries who are unhappy with the provisions of the Will.
  • Whether all of the beneficiaries, executors or administrators of the estate can be found.
  • Whether any of the beneficiaries, executors or administrators resides overseas.
  • The relevance of any trusts, either ongoing or newly created by the Will. 
  • Whether there are any claims against the estate by dependants of the deceased.
  • The quality of financial records kept by or available in respect of the deceased.

These variable factors make it very difficult to provide a meaningful estimate before we know the particular circumstances.  However, based on our experience, we have set out below examples of typical fee estimates up to the grant of probate.  The amount of work involved in administering the estate after the grant depends entirely on the complexity of the estate.

UK resident and domiciled deceased (no foreign element)

Range of fees up to issue of grant (ex. VAT) £

 

With valid UK Will

 

 

  • Excepted estate[1] (short form IHT 205) – no inheritance tax (IHT)

2,500 – 5,000

 

  • Simple estate (no APR, BPR[2] or other IHT reliefs (save spouse exemption))

5,000 – 10,000

 

  • More complex estate (including IHT reliefs)

10,000 – 20,000

 

  • Additional charge for drafting supplementary deeds  relating to the distribution of the estate

2,000 – 3,000

 

 

 

 

No Will

 

 

  • Excepted estate (short form IHT 205) – no inheritance tax

3,000 – 7,000

 

  • Simple estate (no APR, BPR or other IHT reliefs (save spouse exemption))

7,000 – 12,000

 

  • More complex estate (including IHT reliefs)

12,000 – 25,000

 

 

 

The above estimates assume the following:

 

 

Instructions received and documents provided in a timely manner

 

 

Charge covers:

 

 

  • Initial information gathering meeting with executors/intending administrators

 

  • Collating details of the deceased’s assets and liabilities with help from intending representatives and liaising with other professional advisers e.g. accountants and investment managers

 

  • Applying (if necessary) for an IHT reference

 

  • Preparation of HMRC accounts

 

  • Preparation of Oath

 

  • Filing IHT returns and supporting documents with HMRC

 

  • Assistance in organising payment of IHT

Examples of more complex work that we specialise in include:

  • Considering and advising on the application of APR and BPR.
  • Working with foreign lawyers to deal with foreign assets whether or not administered by an English Will.
  • Making arrangements so that changes to the distribution of the estate are as effective as if they were made in the Will.
  • Advising the beneficiaries of estates on their own personal tax position and how they may structure their affairs efficiently.
  • Advising executors and beneficiaries in contentious probates.
  • Negotiating and reaching settlements with HMRC.

IMMIGRATION

Our specialities

We advise individuals, companies, private banks and other financial institutions on their immigration needs.

Entrepreneurs and Investors

Our key specialism in this area is obtaining entry clearance for our investor and entrepreneur clients under Tier 1 of the points-based system and we have an abundance of experience advising clients on all of the legal and practical aspects of the immigration process, from assessing and compiling their applications through to obtaining the relevant permissions for them and their families to come to the UK. 

Private banks and financial institutions

We work closely with private banks and other financial institutions on immigration issues which are relevant to them and their clients (particularly in the context of the Tier 1 “investor visa” regime). For example, we regularly provide guidance and training on the investment restrictions contained within the UK immigration rules and we have assisted with the formulation of model terms and conditions for investment agreements. 

Other immigration advice

In addition, we work with our clients on a range of other immigration issues such as Tier 2 sponsorship license applications for employers, non-EEA skilled worker visas, entry to the UK for short term business visits to the UK, advising on obtaining indefinite leave to remain and applications for British citizenship.

The group has excellent contacts at the Home Office UK Immigration and Visa Service and an extensive network of professional contacts who are able to assist clients needing advice on emigrating to other countries.

Our fees

We charge for our services on a time spent basis with reference to the hours recorded in our time keeping system.  The team working on an immigration matter will usually consist of a partner, an associate and often a trainee.  The team will be selected with a view to ensuring that the work is done on the most cost efficient basis. 

Third party expenses

Depending on the type of application being made, third party expenses charged in addition to our fees for immigration matters can include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • The visa application fee;
  • Immigration health surcharge fee;
  • Postage/courier fees;
  • Appointment confirmation fees;
  • Premium service fees;
  • ‘Life in the UK’ test booking fees; and
  • Approved secure English language test booking fees.

We tailor our service to our client’s needs, from an “advice only” approach to a bespoke personal service. Our “advice only” approach anticipates that we are provided with all necessary documentation and information from our clients/their advisors in order to complete the requisite application forms. Our bespoke personal service is far more hands-on and can include, for example, personal attendance at Visa Application Centres in the country of origin alongside our clients, liaising with bankers and other advisers to compile the requisite information, and assistance with securing the necessary appointments.  Our level of involvement will significantly affect the level of fees we charge.

No applications are exactly the same and our fees will reflect the applicant’s particular circumstances.  These variable requirements make it difficult to provide a meaningful estimate before we know the particular circumstances.  However, based on our experience, we have set out below examples of typical fee estimates.

Non-EU

 
 

Tier 1

Description

 

Range of fees (ex, VAT) £

 

  • Investor

18,000 – 22,000

 

  • Dependant

3,000 – 4,000

 

  • Entrepreneur

18,000 – 22,000

 

  • Dependant

3,000 – 4,000 

 

Tier 2

 

 

  • Sponsor license

12,000 – 15,000

 

  • CoSs

3,000 – 4,000

 

  • Dependant

3,000 – 4,000 

EU

 

 

  • Registration Certificate / Family permits / Residence Cards

4,000 – 7,000

 

  • Dependant

2,000 – 3,000

 

  • Document certifying Permanent Residence

5,000 – 8,000

 

  • Dependant

3,000 – 4,000

 

 

 

Other

 

 

  • British Citizenship  applications – registration/naturalisation/passport applications

6,000 – 8,000

 

  • Right of Abode
  • Dependants

4,000 – 8,000

2,000 – 3,000

 

  • Indefinite Leave to Remain

5,000 – 8,000

 

  • Dependants
  • Discrete immigration advice
  • Visitor type visas

3,000 – 4,000

time spent basis

1,500 – 3,000


The above estimates assume the following:

  • Instructions received and documents provided in a timely manner
  • Charge includes but is not limited to:
  • Initial research into information required for the application;
  • Collation of necessary information;
  • Drafting the visa application form;
  • Organisation of criminal record checks, if necessary;
  • Preparation of a travel schedule for overseas visits, if necessary;
  • Assisting with visa-specific requirements;
  • Submission of online application; and
  • Arranging of visa appointment.


Examples of more complex work that we specialise in includes:

  • Advice where there is a concern regarding an existing breach of immigration rules;
  • Brexit-related enquiries;
  • Advice on failed applications;
  • Niche applications, requiring support from counsel; and
  • Applications requiring the Home Office to exercise discretion.

REAL ESTATE WORK

Our specialities

We focus on the acquisition, disposal, development and letting of high-value residential property for corporate and private clients in the UK and the rest of the world, focusing in particular on the prime central London market.

In addition to sales and purchases, we also take an active role in the management of residential properties and buildings for clients and advise on a range of technical issues encountered in residential property practice.  We also have experience of the regulatory and legal issues involved in secured lending in relation to the purchase of such property and are able to advise on such matters. We have additional expertise in the sale and purchase of listed buildings and in relation to leasehold enfranchisement (the statutory regime to extend a long residential lease, to acquire the freehold of a leasehold house and, collectively with other tenants, to acquire the freehold or the right to manage a residential building).  We also act on the whole life cycle of residential development from site acquisition and assembly, site set-up and sale.

We focus on bespoke, complex transactions often involving listed buildings on London’s main estates involving estate management and restrictive covenant schemes.

This note is prepared on the basis that the transaction consists of a natural person selling to a natural person. We have flagged a number of areas where a purchase from a corporate seller may incur higher fees but transactions involving corporate sellers or purchasers are generally more complex in any event and are likely to incur fees outside the scope of this note.

Key stages of a simple conveyancing matter

Purchase

  • Taking initial instructions and providing initial advice;
  • Carrying out searches and undertaking the legal due diligence on the property;
  • Obtaining planning documents as required;
  • Liaising with a funding bank’s solicitor and advising on the terms of the legal charge if finance is being obtained or, if permitted by both parties, acting for the lender;
  • If the property is leasehold, liaising with the landlord if consent to assign (transfer) the lease is required or if the buyer is to covenant directly with the landlord;
  • Liaising with the agent throughout;
  • Where applicable, liaising with surveyors, planning consultants etc.;
  • Reporting to the client and liaising in respect of any queries which they may raise;
  • Agreeing the form of the transaction documents (including drafting the transfer) and reporting on the same;
  • Agreeing a completion date;
  • Making the necessary arrangements in respect of funds to be received from the client and lender (where applicable); and
  • Post-completion, attending to registration formalities and payment of stamp duty land tax.

Sale

  • Taking initial instructions and providing initial advice;
  • Preparing the sales pack (including protocol forms and draft contract);
  • Responding to the additional enquiries raised by the purchaser;
  • Liaising with the agent throughout;
  • If the property is leasehold, liaising with the landlord if consent to assign (transfer) the lease is required or if the buyer is to covenant directly with the landlord;
  • Agreeing the form of the transaction documents;
  • Undertaking additional searches if required; and
  • Completing the sale.

Timescales

Timescales for conveyancing are led by our clients. We frequently exchange high-value transactions in five working days or less. However, sometimes due to complexities, perhaps relating to planning issues or tax considerations, clients may wish for transactions to proceed at a slower pace. We endeavour to adhere to our clients’ requested time-frames in each case. Timeframes may also be dependent on external factors such as a funding bank’s review and approval of the title documents and other documentation relating to the transaction.

Our usual timeframe to exchange and complete a transaction is three to six weeks, although this can be more or less and longer completion dates can be agreed if required.

The team

The team working on a conveyancing matter will always be led by a partner and will usually also consist of a senior counsel or senior associate, an associate and a trainee or trainee legal executive.

Our fees

Our fees will reflect the particular requirements of your transaction. Fee estimates will be based on a range of factors, including but not limited to:

  • The value of the property;
  • Whether or not the property is listed;
  • Planning or building regulations issues;
  • Construction issues;
  • Whether finance is to be obtained and, if so, whether the bank is to be separately represented;
  • Whether the land is registered;
  • Timescales for the transaction;
  • Whether the transaction requires vacant possession to be first achieved i.e. tenants or third parties to vacate;
  • Whether the transaction is conditional e.g. conditional on the grant of planning permission;
  • The future intention for the property e.g. whether the property is to be redeveloped; and
  • Whether tax advice is required as part of the transaction.

Consequently, it is difficult to provide a meaningful estimate without details of the property and proposed transaction (but circumstances of particular transactions may mean that a quotation is higher e.g. if a purchase involves any element of enfranchisement). However, by way of rough guide, our fees for conveyancing would typically fall within the following ranges:

  • Purchase: £4,500 for a cash purchase of a non-development freehold property worth up to £2,000,000 to e.g. £40,000 for complex high-value transactions (plus VAT at 20% and disbursements (see further below)).
  • Sale: £4,500 for a sale of a non-development freehold property worth up to £2,000,000 to e.g. £30,000 for complex high-value transactions (plus VAT at 20% and disbursements).
  • Re-financing: £3,000 to £5,000 depending on the factors set out above (as applicable) (plus VAT at 20% and disbursements).

Our fees are estimates, not capped or fixed and the circumstances may result in an estimate being higher or lower depending on matters that emerge during the course of the transaction. We will always advise if particular complications arise which mean that we are likely to exceed our fee estimate.

We will quote for residential conveyancing on the basis of certain assumptions. Some assumptions may be specific to a particular matter, but our usual assumptions for a sale or  purchase are as follows:

  • Exchange and completion take place in accordance with the contract and the timeframe set out in at the outset of the matter;
  • No unusual issues arise in the negotiation and agreement of the transaction documents and negotiations do not become unduly complicated and/or protracted;
  • For a purchase, we will assume either that finance will or will not be obtained and, if so, whether the bank will be separately represented;
  • No unusual planning or construction issues arise;
  • Our advice is limited to the UK; and
  • All meetings are held in London.

Exceptionally, for example in the case of the purchase of a corporate vehicle holding high value residential property, our fees will fall outside this range.

Our fees will be based on the hourly rates of our real estate team, which are currently as follows:

Role

Rate

Partner

£550

Senior Counsel/Senior Associate

£430

Associates

£275-410

Trainee

£205

Trainee Legal Executive

£150

VAT (at 20%) is always charged in addition to our fees and disbursements (where applicable).

Our fees are reviewed annually on 1 May.

Third party expenses

Third party expenses are charged in addition to our fees for real estate matters and can include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Land Registry registration and search fees (registration fees range from £20 to £910, priority searches and obtaining official copies of the register are £3 each and bankruptcy searches are £2 per person);
  • Usual conveyancing search fees (by way of example, a suite of searches for a residential property purchase is likely to be in the region of £500 - £800 but can in certain circumstances be more);
  • Indemnity insurance policies (these can range from around £100 for lower-value, boilerplate policies to several thousands of pounds for bespoke policies where the risks involved are higher);
  • Landlords’ notice fees (payable on the transfer of leasehold property) (these are typically in the region of £75 - £150 per notice i.e. for notice of transfer and charge);
  • Landlord’s management pack (payable on the transfer of leasehold property) (these are typically in the region of £500 - £1,000);
  • Other solicitors’ fees (e.g. a bank or landlord’s solicitor or overseas counsel if a legal opinion is required for a purchase from or to an overseas company) (these can vary significantly depending on the nature of the solicitors’ involvement from, at the lowest end of the scale, £500 to, at the higher end for complex advice, £8,000);
  • Agent’s fees (these will vary significantly depending on the nature and value of the transaction and are usually expressed as a percentage of the value of the property and we have seen recent research as of autumn 2018 showing that the average commission in London is 1.7%);
  • Counsel’s fees (these will vary depending on the nature and scope of the advice sought and on Counsel’s experience from approximately £1,500 for a simple, discrete piece of advice to £10,000 for more complex or ongoing advice and we would note that, exceptionally, Counsel’s fees may exceed this range);
  • Stamp duty land tax (which will depend on the value of the property and the applicable rate and which can be calculated for typical residential conveyancing transactions using HMRC’s online calculator here).

[1] An estate where a full inheritance tax account is not required, where the deceased died on or after 6 April 2004, domiciled in the United Kingdom, and whose gross value (including the deceased's share of jointly owned assets, any specified transfers and specified exempt transfers) does not exceed the inheritance tax nil rate band or where the gross value of the estate does not exceed £1,000,000 and there can be no liability to inheritance tax, because spouse or civil partner exemption, or charity exemption, bring the estate below the inheritance tax nil rate band or estates of deceased individuals who died on or after 6 April 2002 and who were domiciled outside the UK at the date of their death; had never been domiciled in the UK during their lifetime; had never been deemed domiciled in the UK for the purposes of section 267 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984; and the value of their estate situated in the UK consists only of cash or quoted shares or securities passing under their will or intestacy or by survivorship, the gross value of which does not exceed specified limits.

[2] Agricultural property relief and business property relief from inheritance tax.