Darlington Office 01325 466 221
Durham Office 0191 386 4843
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Wills & Probate

150 Years Experience

150 Years Experience

Freeman Johnson has more than 150 years experience in helping people handle their wills and probate matters. By taking care of your interests now, you can guarantee that your loved ones will not have to experience the added pain of being disinherited or receiving no financial support.

Fortunately, this firm is filled with experienced wills and probate solicitors who can offer expert guidance and assistance across wills, trusts and estates. Freeman Johnson can assist with the following in North East England:

  • Wills and estate planning
  • Probate & administration of estates
  • Trusts
  • Advance directives
  • Lasting powers of attorney and Court of Protection
  • Inheritance tax planning

Estate management

The death of a loved one is an extremely distressing and confusing time that also brings up an array of important duties and decisions. In such instances, you can turn to Freeman Johnson for will and probate solicitors to help you deal with the deceased’s estate and financial matters.

Your estate solicitor can take responsibility for informing all necessary companies and providers that your loved one has passed away. They will quickly provide you with an accurate breakdown of the assets and liabilities for the estate. Papers will then be drafted to apply for probate to gather the assets, discharge the liabilities and pay any legacies to beneficiaries.

Freeman Johnson can also deal with estates when a person has not left a valid will and has died intestate. The process is similar to the one listed above, but our will and probate solicitors can also seek out the unknown family of deceased loved ones and ultimately resolve the situation.

Lasting powers of attorney

Freeman Johnson can also assist in the planning of lasting powers of attorney to ensure that your financial and property decisions are taken care of. These documents can be drawn up for use at a later date, but you can also request assistance for immediate registration with the Office of the Public Guardian.

Please request a home visit from a power of attorney solicitor if you are unable to come to our offices. Call today on 01325 466221 to book your appointment.

Costs Probate Uncontested

Obtaining a Grant of Representation and dealing with an administration of an estate can be complicated; it can take several months, and in complex cases can take over a year to ensure everything is done properly.  At Freeman Johnson we offer a complete estate administration service to deal with everything for you.  Every estate is different, and so it can be very hard to quantify probate costs.  The work can vary from very straightforward estates with only one or two small value assets and one beneficiary, to complicated estates where there is inheritance tax to pay, multiple beneficiaries and assets held with numerous organisations as well as property and land to sell or transfer.

Our usual fee when we are asked to obtain a Grant of Probate only and when no full Inheritance Tax Return requires to be completed and submitted to HMRC, and all financial information is supplied by the Executor is in the region of £450.00 plus vat.  An application for Probate where a full Inheritance Tax Return is required to be submitted to HMRC is in the region of £800.00 to £1,000.00 plus vat.  Please note these figures are for obtaining a Grant of Probate only and do not include the administration of the estate.

Disbursements which are payable on an application for Probate (ie costs payable to third party) Probate fee £155.00 and office copies of the Grant of Probate £1.50 per copy.

This cost information is a general indication of costs based on our experience.  On a straight forward estate fees are based on our hourly rate plus vat.

Helen Thompson (Partner with 8+ years’ experience) £230.00 per hour plus vat.
Sarah Hall (Partner with 3+ years’ experience) £230.00 per hour plus vat.

We estimate our costs for a straightforward estate where there is no inheritance to pay, no shares to be sold or transferred, no creditors to pay, no trust to be established and no dispute will take no more than 16 hours work.

This is based on an estate in which there are no more than three bank accounts; no more than one property in the sole name of the deceased; no debts; no likelihood of the estate being insolvent; no significant lifetime gifts; no shareholdings; no dispute between the beneficiaries on the division of the assets; no inheritance tax payable and the Executors do not need to submit a full IHT return to HMRC; nor is there need to use the transferable nil rate band or residence nil rate band; no other intangible assets; no claims made against the estate; no agricultural or business element to the estate; no foreign element to the estate.

Where the assets in an estate are likely to be of a high value or the estate is more complex then we may add a value uplift based on no more than 1% of the liquid assets in the estate plus vat and 0.5% of the value of the property in the estate plus vat.

The disbursements will include the Probate fee, office copy fees, bankruptcy search fee £1 per beneficiary, Section 27 Trustee Act notice fee (this protects the Trustees against creditors) so estimated in the region of £300.00 to £400.00.  Land Registry fees £30.00 to £400 depending on the value of the property and whether it has been registered before.  Higher valued unregistered property can cost up to £680 and over £1M even more.  Land Registry search fees £3.00 plus vat, copy Death Certificate and any other Certificates required £10.00 each Certificate.

The following factors are also likely to increase the cost of your matter:-

Not having all of the paperwork available or having incorrect information that needs investigation and correction.

Third parties not corresponding to our communications promptly.

Dealing with unusual or complex assets or items.

We would be able to give you details of our costs estimate once we have all the information available regarding the estate.

Contact the wills & probate team

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any wills and probate questions. You can read staff profiles on all of our wills and probate solicitors below:

Please contact us at any one of our three UK offices here.

Frequently Asked Questions

A Will ensures your estate will pass to the people you want it to on your death.

If you die without a valid Will, the law dictates who your estate will pass to. The Intestacy Rules are a set of rules which say how your estate should be distributed. The rules prioritise different classes of family members over others. The rules do not provide for cohabitees or friends.

We can draft your Will for you to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death and your estate and belongings pass to the people you wish. We will store your Will for you free of charge to ensure that your Will is safe and secure.

"I am married so all my estate will pass to my spouse"

Not necessarily. The rules differ for people who have children to those who do not. Your spouse may not receive all of your assets or they have to share assets with your children.

This can cause issues if your children are from a previous relationship or if your main asset is the family home and your children do not want to wait for their share in your estate.

Your spouse could end up having to sell their home.

"We are not married but we have lived together for more than two years so my partner will be treated as my common law spouse and will inherit my estate"

This is incorrect. The Intestacy Rules make no provision for unmarried partners. If you die intestate your partner will not be entitled to anything from your estate.

"We own our property jointly so my partner/spouse will get the house if I die"

Again this is not always the case and is dependent on decisions you made when you originally bought the property.

"I don’t have a spouse but I have children and my money will go to them"

This may be true but you will need to consider at what age your children will inherit your estate. If you do not make a Will they will inherit at 18 years old. You may prefer your children to inherit when they are older and have more life experience.

If your children are young their money will need to be invested on their behalf until they are adults. Within your Will you can specify who should be their Trustees to manage their money.

I am divorced so my money will go to my children and not my ex spouse

This may be the case however if your children are under the age of 18 and your ex spouse is their Guardian then your ex spouse will be able to control the money on behalf of your children.

"I do not have any family to leave my estate to"

All the more reason to make a Will.

If you do not have any immediate family, your estate will pass to your distant relatives. If you do not have any family at all then your estate will pass to the Crown. With a Will you get to dictate who gets your estate upon your death.

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document which enables you to appoint one or more people to make decisions and act on your behalf.

There are two separate Lasting Powers of Attorney covering Financial and Property Affairs and Health and Welfare decisions.

If you do not make a Lasting Power of Attorney and you lose your mental capacity, a costly application will need to be made to the Court of Protection to enable family members or friends to deal with any assets in your sole name such as bank accounts and property.

"I am fit and well, I will make a Lasting Power of Attorney when I need one"

We do not know what the future has in store for us.

Illnesses such as dementia can result in the rapid decline of a person’s mental capacity and they may not have enough time to make a Lasting Power of Attorney before they lose their capacity.

Other health issues such as strokes can result in an immediate loss of mental capacity. If this is the case then access to bank accounts etc can prove impossible for family members.

"I am married, my spouse will be able to deal with my affairs"

For health and welfare decision, your next of kin will often be consulted. However for property and Financial affairs, your spouse will not be able to deal with any assets in your sole name without a Lasting Power of Attorney in place.

If you lost your mental capacity and had to go into care, your spouse would not be able to downsize your jointly owned property without someone being appointed to sign the documents on your behalf.

"I do not want someone meddling in my affairs whilst I can still manage"

Making a Lasting Power of Attorney does not mean you immediately surrender control of your own affairs. A Lasting Power of Attorney does not need to be used straightaway. We can store your Lasting Power of Attorney here until such times as it may need to be used in the future.

Lasting Powers of Attorney are not only for people who have lost their mental capacity but can also be used for people who are unable to leave the house for example due to a physical disability or a fall.

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