Banks And Solicitors Are Overcharging The Dead
By Claire West
Final Duties, the UK's first independent probate broker, estimates that tens of thousands of people are being systematically overcharged for probate work, by banks and solicitors, often because of decisions that were made by the deceased many years ago.
Adam Walker, founder and managing director of Final Duties, said: "For probate work the scale of overcharging is quite staggering. Currently the average estate value is £137,000. Solicitors typically charge a fee of around 2% of the value of the estate for probate work. Banks charge even more, typically 4% of the value of the estate. This is grossly unfair, as the value of the estate does not determine how much work is required."
Probate is usually required when assets worth £5000 or more were in the deceased's sole name. Banks, building societies and financial institutions holding these assets usually ask for a Grant of Probate to be produced before they release the funds. These legal processes apply regardless of whether there is a Will or not. Probate can be very complex and involved so it is usually left to an expert. HM Courts Service recorded 286,038 Grants of Probate last year, of which 181,940 were lodged by banks or solicitors.
Walker adds, [i]"Our research shows that in the aftermath of a death very few people think to ask for a detailed quotation for probate work. Even fewer people obtain more than one quotation. This has meant that banks and solicitors have been able to overcharge for far too long. We are encouraging everyone to obtain a quotation for probate work from an independent source before they proceed. The savings can be significant. The most expensive quotation is often up to five times more expensive than the cheapest.
At Final Duties we recently had a case involving a large and complex estate where a bank had quoted £113,000 for probate work and we obtained a quote for the same work for under £26,000.