We aim to build long lasting relationships with our clients and we believe the key to forging successful relationships is clear and effective communication. Our preference is to talk to you face to face, at the outset, to make sure that we fully understand your objectives and your future plans. That way we can offer bespoke and individual services tailored to your precise needs. Experience tells us that it is important to help you formulate the right questions to achieve your objectives. Once we have discussed your objectives and understood what is important to you we can then set out in detail the scope of the work, the legal costs to carry out that work and an estimated timescale to complete the work. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team as we will be happy to help you find a solution.
We recognize that there are times when we may not be the most appropriate firm to meet your needs. When that is the case we will not hesitate to say so and we will endeavor to arrange for an appropriate specialist at another firm to contact you directly. That way we can ensure that we act in your best interests.
Please note that we do not accept any referral fees because we consider that it is more important that you receive the best advice for your individual circumstances and therefore we are not tied to any other firms or organisations. This enables us to be completely independent when acting for you or when recommending alternative firms to help you.
Current hourly rate as at December 2018:
- A. Directors, Senior Solicitors, Senior Legal Executives and other members of relevant professional bodies with 8 years’ or more experience after qualification - £240 plus VAT
- B. Solicitors, Legal Executives and members of relevant professional bodies with 4 or more but less than 8 years’ experience after qualification and fee earners with equivalent experience - £175 plus VAT
- C. Other Solicitors, Legal Executives and fee earners of equivalent experience not falling within A or B above - £150 plus VAT
- D. Trainee Solicitors, Paralegals and fee earners of equivalent experience not falling within A-C inclusive above - £125 plus VAT
We do not take on residential conveyancing work for new clients and we no longer have anyone in the team that deals solely with house conveyancing for individuals moving house.
All of our property team experts are able to assist existing clients with residential conveyancing and examples of when we are likely to help with this are:
- For the executors of an estate which includes a house which the executors wish to sell or transfer to a beneficiary
- For the trustees of a trust when the trustees wish to purchase a house for a beneficiary to live in, for example, a beneficiary that has received compensation following a personal injury. In these cases often part of the award of compensation is ear-marked to purchase, build or adapt a property to provide the best environment for living with an injury or to help with rehabilitation.
- For our family business owner clients, often when they wish to downsize in retirement or purchase a holiday home abroad for extended holidays.
In relation to a purchase, we will guide you through the following stages:
- Identifying the most appropriate property to meet your needs. Often this involves working alongside trusted property agents. This can take a matter of weeks in some cases and in others we have known it take up to a year to find the perfect property.
- Taking your instructions at a face to face meeting to thoroughly understand what you wish to achieve from the purchase both in the short term and in the longer term for you and your family.
- Attending site visits and accompanying you on property viewings if required.
- Carrying out thorough due diligence to make sure our fact finding exercise provides all relevant information you need, to help you to decide whether to go ahead or not. If the seller’s advisers provide clear and helpful information in a timely manner this helps avoid unnecessary delays and minimizes the risk of us having to request further additional information. Usually this stage can take anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks to 3 to 6 months depending on the type of property and the quality of the information supplied. The sort of factors that can cause delays are:
- problems with the title deeds
- buying listed buildings
- services not connecting to the mains system for example water bore holes and septic tanks
- having to raise finance rather than purchasing with your own cash
- the property being leasehold not freehold
- Approving the draft contract, exchanging contracts, preparing the purchase transfer document and dealing with legal completion. Exchange of contracts is when you are committed to proceed with the purchase and may be required to pay a deposit. Legal completion is when the keys are handed over and the residential property is yours. We have experience of achieving legal completion within 28 days from instruction but it is more usual for the whole process to take 2 to 3 months.
- We are not on any lender panels and generally our existing clients are cash purchasers. If you are purchasing with the help of a mortgage then your lender will need to instruct their own solicitors to represent the lender and you will be responsible for paying their costs too.
- Completing stamp duty land tax returns and Land Registry applications and paying the tax and the registration fees.
Our costs in relation to a purchase vary depending on the particular circumstances. The costs are charged on a time basis at our hourly rates and in our experience it is not possible to deal with a residential purchase in less than 10 hours. Properties with a sale price of over £1million with the most complex issues may take up to 40 hours based on our past experience. Our legal costs can range between £2000 plus VAT and £10,000 plus VAT but typically are around £4000 plus VAT. Disbursements will include:
- Search Fees of between £700 - £1000
- Stamp Duty Land Tax based on the purchase price and your personal circumstances and there is a calculator tool on the Government website which you can use to calculate your tax (www.gov.uk/stamp-duty-land-tax)
- Land Registry fee based on the purchase price and there is a calculator tool on the Land Registry website which you can use to calculate your registration fee (www.landregistry.data.gov.uk/fees-calculator)
In relation to a sale, we will guide you through the following stages:
- Identifying any title defects or other issues that we anticipate a buyer’s adviser may raise concerns about and offer practical as well as legal solutions at the outset. By tackling problems early it helps avoid delays and also minimises the risk of the buyer pulling out if such problems have not been resolved or if the buyer seeks to negotiate a price reduction.
- Taking your instructions at a face to face meeting to thoroughly understand what you wish to achieve from the sale and whether the sale proceeds are required for example, to invest in another property, a business venture or lifetime gift planning.
- Attending site visits and meeting at the property if required.
- Answering questions from the buyer’s adviser in a helpful and detailed way to enable them to carry out their due diligence exercise as quickly as possible.
- Preparing the draft contract, exchanging contracts, approving the purchase transfer document and dealing with legal completion. Exchange of contracts is when you are committed to proceed with the purchase. Although a deposit may be paid it will usually be held in our client account until legal completion. Legal completion is when the keys are handed over and you are paid the sale price. We have experience of achieving legal completion within 28 days from instruction but it is more usual for the whole process to take 2 to 3 months.
Our costs in relation to a sale vary depending on the particular circumstances. The costs are charged on a time basis at our hourly rates and in our experience it is not possible to deal with a residential sale in less than 6 hours. Properties with a sale price of over £1million with the most complex issues may take up to 20 hours based on our past experience. Our legal costs can range between £1000 plus VAT and £5000 plus VAT but typically are around £1750 plus VAT. Disbursements will generally not be more than £50 and include:
- Land Registry, Land Charges or Local Authority copy documents
- Colour photocopying or plans
We have been helping families deal with personal and business financial affairs following a death for many years and in a number of cases we have acted for the same family for the last three generations.
We will arrange to meet with you, as soon as appropriate, following a death to discuss immediate and urgent next steps and leave less pressing matters for another day. To help avoid overloading you with information at an initial meeting we provide a booklet for you to take away that explains what happens with a deceased’s assets and some of the terms used. The booklet is quite detailed and there is a lot to take in. When you feel ready to progress matters we arrange to meet again and we are always happy to run through anything you are unclear about.
We can help you as much or as little as you want us to in the administration of the deceased’s Estate. There are a variety of solutions that we can discuss with you. The main options are set out below. You can decide at the outset or as you proceed how much you want us to do and how much you wish to do yourself. Whatever choice you make we will do our best to answer your queries, charging for that service on the time spent.
- The first option is a fixed fee of £1500 plus VAT and the court fees for:
- you collect all of the relevant paper work and obtain valuations of the deceased’s assets as at the date of death and provide us with the information;
- we complete the relevant forms and apply for the Grant of Representation (the formal court paper that authorises someone to collect a deceased’s assets and give them to those that benefit under the will) on your behalf; and
- you collect in the deceased’s assets once the Grant of Representation is made and give them to those that benefit
- The second option is:
- We collect all of the relevant paper work and obtain valuations of the deceased’s assets as at the date of his death;
- We complete the relevant forms and apply for the Grant of Representation on your behalf; and
- You collect in the deceased’s assets once the Grant of Representation is made and and give them to those that benefit
For this we would charge the fixed fee of £1500 plus VAT and charge for the collection of paper work and the valuations on a time basis at our current hourly rates.
- The other main option is that we undertake all the necessary work from start to finish on behalf of the personal representatives. We would:
- collect all of the relevant paper work and obtain valuations of the deceased’s assets as at the date of his death;
- complete the relevant forms and apply for the Grant of Representation on your behalf; and
- collect in the deceased’s assets once the Grant of Representation is made and and give them to those that benefit
For this we would charge on a time basis and a percentage of the value of the deceased’s property (‘the Estate’).
The percentage of the value of the Estate we charge will be what is reasonable, in the circumstances, but will not exceed the following rates:
A percentage of the gross value of the Estate (less the value of the main residence):
- up to £1m 1%
- from £1m to £4m 0.5%
- from £4m to £8m 0.167%
- over £8m 0.08%
and 0.5% of the value of the residence
Time spent will include meetings with you and perhaps others; considering, preparing and working on papers; correspondence; and making and receiving telephone calls.
From our experience of the time it takes to deal with all the normal and routine tasks in the administration of an estate (where we deal with all matters described in 3 above), we estimate that our total fees, including both time spent and any value element charged but excluding VAT and disbursements, will not exceed the amount or percentage of the gross value of the Estate set out in the table below:
|GROSS VALUE OF ESTATE||ESTIMATED FEES||CUMULATIVE TOTAL to top of band|
|Less than £50,000||£2,500 plus||£2,500|
|In respect of any excess over £50,000 up to £250,000||£1 to £8,000 (4 per cent) plus||£10,500|
|In respect of any excess over £250,000 up to £750,000||£1 to £15,000 (3 per cent) plus||£25,500|
|In respect of any excess over £750,000 to £2.5m||£1 to £35,000 (2 per cent)||£60,500|
|In respect of any excess over £2.5m||By arrangement|
This is not intended to be fixed, it is an estimate only. In any event, we would not go above that figure without informing you in advance.
We review with you the estimate of overall charges and expenses after the grant of probate has been obtained and every 6 months thereafter.
We will add VAT to our charge at the rate that applies when the work is done.
It is our aim to administer estates within 12 months. Sometimes we successfully complete the administration in a shorter timescale. However, for more complex estates it can take 18 months to 2 years to obtain clearance from HMRC in relation to the inheritance tax position.
There are circumstances when our charges will exceed those set out above. Work that we consider being outside the normal and routine tasks in the administration of an estate will be charged for separately and we will tell you about these in advance. Examples of the type of additional work which may be required which is not within the normal administration of the estate are set out below. However, before doing any additional work we will always provide you with an estimate of the additional costs and agree them with you.
- Arranging the funeral.
- Emptying and clearing property.
- Collecting, storing and arranging valuations of household goods and jewellery.
- Liaising with beneficiaries in relation to the deceased’s personal belongings.
- Sorting through significant volumes of paperwork to investigate the extent of the deceased’s estate.
- Ensuring assets are suitably insured.
- Complying with property insurance requirements (such as monthly visits).
- Dealing with correspondence from/to utility companies, including transfer of accounts.
- Setting up new services with the utility providers.
- Dealing with an exceptionally large number of assets and/or liabilities.
- Advising on and dealing with variations to the Will.
- Placing Section 27 Notices.
- Notifying numerous beneficiaries of their entitlement and dealing with enquiries for further information.
- Tracing missing beneficiaries.
- Preparing and submitting personal tax returns to the date of death (or form R27).
- Dealing with foreign property.
- Probate application fee and payment for office copies.
- Dealing with the sale, transfer or appropriation of property in the estate.
- Advising on and handling disputes or claims made against the estate including any litigation.
- Tax planning advice and implementation.
- Arranging interim distributions.
- Arranging for the sale and/or transfer of investments.
Debt Recovery for Businesses up to £100,000
We dot not have a commercial litigation team as our philosophy is that our family business clients should explore other solutions wherever possible to avoid litigation. This is because litigation can be expensive and can impact significantly on your time which is usually better spent on your own business than on a time consuming Court dispute.
We help our family business owners implement effective and robust credit control procedures and believe that prevention is always better than cure when it comes to bad debts.
However, on occasions we do help our clients on the following basis:
Firstly we may send a solicitors letter with a demand for payment within a short period of time. Our costs for that range between £150 - £250 plus VAT.
If that does not secure payment, then we may be asked to issue a formal statutory demand for payment within a slightly longer period of time. Our costs for that are £400 plus VAT. In addition, we recommend the demand is served by a specialist process server and they usually charge £100 plus VAT.
If having taken these initial steps the debt is still outstanding we will discuss with you further options and in particular the risks and benefits . Typically the most common choices our family business owner clients make are either:
- Write off the debt and focus their time, energy and business resources on the core business activities.
- Pursue the debt through the Courts. This is not something that we handle but we will arrange for an appropriate specialist at another firm to meet you and support you through that process.
Employment Tribunal work - Defendant
We encourage our family business clients to take positive and proactive steps to avoid employment disputes by having appropriate contracts of employment in place and up to date and comprehensive staff handbooks. We also regularly guide our clients through tricky or sensitive issues with their employees with the aim of maintaining a motivated and positive workforce.
When our clients are not able to manage employee concerns or grievances and the outcome is a formal tribunal claim from the employee then we remain supportive and help with the next stage. We always flag up the possibility that our client may have legal expenses insurance in place to cover such a claim and if they do, it may well be that the insurer and a panel firm on behalf of the insurer will handle things from that point. We are always on hand and many clients ask us to maintain a watching brief in the background because of the historical knowledge we have about the client and their business from our long association working together.
Over the last 5 years we can count on one hand the number of times our clients have had to defend a tribunal claim. However in those cases we have worked successfully to ensure any damages and costs are kept to a minimum.
When we are asked to help defend a claim the scope of work is likely to include the following:
- review the information received from the Employment Tribunal
- arrange for a specialist barrister to review the claim form (ET1) and relevant evidence and advise on the best way forward
- collate any further evidence required or advised by the specialist barrister
- meet with the owners and any relevant managers of the business to understand the factual events and prepare witness statements
- draft formal witness statements
- instruct the specialist barrister and arrange for a defence form (ET3) to be drafted
- arrange for a suitable representative to attend the Case Management Hearing
- provide guidance on the next steps and update at every stage up to and including a final hearing if earlier settlement cannot be achieved
Our costs vary depending on the particular circumstances. Our costs are likely to range between £10,000 plus VAT and £30,000 plus VAT based on our previous experience.