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Team Overview, Team Members and Price Transparency

Overview

The department deals with all aspects of wills, trusts and estates and is headed by Laith Khatib, who is a member of the firm’s board of directors. Laith is also the firm’s Compliance Officer for Finance and Administration.

The team is friendly, hard working, collaborative and ultimately motivated to achieve great results for clients. As a collective the team possesses many years of experience and that brings with it an invaluable insight into the practical aspects of the work we do. There are not many situations involving wills, trusts and estates that someone in our team has not encountered before.

We help a diverse range of clients and aim to provide a bespoke service to each and every person who instructs us. For example, we often assist very wealthy individuals with their succession planning but we are equally at home doing the same thing for clients of modest means who wish to ensure their affairs are in order. The needs of each client will vary and we therefore try and tailor our service to fit individual requirements. We offer a range of fixed fees for work which is routine and if that is not possible we will provide you with a basis for calculating our fees, with estimates provided where possible, and we will always seek your agreement to our fee proposals before undertaking chargeable work.

Individuals in our team are consistently recognised in the legal directories for being experts in their field. It is testament to the reputation of our team’s members that we often receive client referrals from many other professionals - including solicitors at other firms, and satisfied clients.

There is a range of skillsets within our team and it is not uncommon for different individuals to feed into one case in appropriate circumstance. For example, if what first seems like a routine estate administration becomes complicated by the fact that someone announces that they wish to contest the Will, we have the expertise to deal with that situation. Equally, the depth in the team means that if the primary case handler is unavailable because of holiday leave or ill health, someone else will be able to fill the void and ensure that the matter receives the appropriate level of attention.

Team Members

Grade A Fee Earners – Solicitors with 8 years + Post Qualification Experience (PQE)

Laith Khatib mainly with contentious probate/trusts, insolvent estates, and high net worth estate and succession cases. He is a full member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and appears on the Mencap panel of recommended experts for wills and trusts. He has been identified as a ‘leading individual’ in the 2016 - 2018 editions of the Legal 500 in the field of contentious trusts and probate in Wales. He is also recommended in the Legal 500 for non contentious wills, trusts and estates.

Paul Lindsey is a partner and deals with contentious and non contentious wills, trusts and estates. Paul deals with a number of high value Court of Protection cases and acts for very wealthy families in their succession planning. He is also recommended in the 2018 edition of the Legal 500.

Claire Davis deals with a broad spectrum of private client work, mainly non contentious, and sits on the board of directors of Solicitors for the Elderly. Claire delivers lectures on topical issues to charities and local groups. She is regarded as a prominent figure within the region and is seen as the go-to person for complicated matters in the Newport area. Claire is a member of SFE and is on the Mencap panel.

Alison Huggins is a non contentious private client lawyer with an exceptional talent for dealing with elderly clients. She is also one of the regions foremost experts on care fee funding. Alison is repeatedly approached by health and social care staff to act as a professional deputy and she regularly appears in the media, particularly BBC Radio Wales, as a commentator on the law affecting older clients. Recent feedback from clients suggests she is very capable and supportive. She is a member of Solicitors for the Elderly

John O'Connell was one of the founding partners in the firm but has now retired from full time practice. He does however continue to offer consultancy services for the firm and his depth and breadth of experience is invaluable. John specialises in estates, trusts and deputyship matters with very high values. He has an ability to analyse and work easily with complicated financial information that others find intimidating.

Grade B Fee Earners – Solicitors with 4 – 8 years PQEM

None

Grade C Fee Earners – Solicitors with up to 4 years PQE

Hayley Rees deals with the full range of private client work i.e. wills, trusts and estates. Hayley trained with the firm and qualified into the department upon qualifying as a solicitor in 2015. She is an integral member of the team and is able to deal with complicated and difficult cases very competently and efficiently.

Amanda Taylor has recently joined the department from a firm in Bristol. Amanda qualified in 2017 and can advise clients on all aspects of estate planning, estate administration, powers of attorney and applications to the Court of Protection.

Grade D Fee Earners – Trainee Solicitors, Paralegals, and Legal Assistants

The firm has a number of legal assistants in the department and a trainee solicitor. Grade D fee earners will generally manage straightforward matters under supervision and also undertake delegated tasks given to them by the Grade A – C fee earners mentioned above. At the present time the Grade D fee earners in the department are Sewak Singh, Ellena Propert, Koulla Newman and Alison Price.

Fees – Price Transparency

Example Scenario

Applying for a grant of probate in a non taxable estate (which includes a property and various other assets including bank accounts, some investments and other tangible assets), dealing with payment of any debts and estate administration expenses and then dealing with distribution of the estate to less than 10 beneficiaries.

We anticipate that a case like this will generally take between 15 and 25 hours of our time to complete spread over a period of months. The fees to deal with the administration of a non taxable estate like this will generally be somewhere in the region of £3,000 - £5,000 plus VAT. In addition to our fees a range of disbursements would also be payable.

The exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the case. For example, if there is one beneficiary and no property, costs will be at the lower end of the range identified above or may in fact be even less. Sometimes we deal with simple estates that are fully administered for less than £2,000 plus VAT. Equally, if there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts, costs will be at the higher end. If there are problems with the title to the property (i.e. an unregistered property with lost deeds), lost beneficiaries, complications with the terms of the Will (because it is badly drafted) costs could be much higher. There are a number of other reasons why a case may become more complex to deal with.

In a case like the one described above, we can handle the full process for you. The general estimate provided above is for estates where:
  • There is a valid will
  • There is no more than one property
  • There are no more than 5 bank or building society accounts
  • There are no other intangible assets
  • There are up to ten beneficiaries all based in the UK and contactable
  • There are no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets. If disputes arise this is likely to lead to an increase in costs, sometime significantly
  • There is no inheritance tax payable and the executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC
  • There are no claims made against the estate
Disbursements that are typically incurred are:
  • Probate application fee of £155 plus £1 for each sealed copy of the Grant
  • £7 Swearing of the oath (per executor)
  • Bankruptcy-only Land Charges Department searches (£2 per UK based beneficiary)
  • £200- £250 Advert in The London Gazette and local newspaper – Protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors.
  • Other disbursements can be incurred depending on circumstances. Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees, land registry fees, and fees paid to tracing agents and genealogists. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process and if there is sufficient money in the estate we will often fund these for you and then seek reimbursement from the estate. In some cases we will insist on your making payment to us on account before we incur disbursements.
Potential additional costs
  • If there is no will or the estate consists of any share holdings (stocks and bonds) there is likely to be additional costs that could range significantly depending on the estate and how it is to be dealt with. We can give you a more accurate quote once we have more information.
  • Dealing with the sale or transfer of any property in the estate is not included. Please refer to our pricing for property transactions for further details.

Taxable Estates

It is difficult to provide a one size fits all estimate of fees and timescales for a taxable estate. By their nature estates which will be subject to inheritance tax tend to have a diverse range of assets and are more complex to deal with. The fact tax is payable does not in itself lead to higher costs, though the requirement to file a detailed Inheritance Tax Return does create work over and above that required in a non-taxable estate. The main issue is that there is just more time spent dealing on the case because there are a greater number of assets and they are more complicated to deal with than that in lower value cases. In light of this we provide a bespoke fee estimate for taxable estates before we commence work if at all possible. That said, in many taxable estates we administer our fees are in the region of £7,500 - £12,500 plus vat. If, however, the estate is simple despite its high value, the costs will likely be similar to those for untaxable estates as outlined above. In particularly difficult or demanding cases the costs can be much more than £12,500 plus vat.

How long will this take?

On average, estates as described in the example are dealt with within 6 – 12 months. Typically, obtaining the grant of probate takes 3 - 6 months, but much depends on how easy it is to collate details of the assets and liabilities in the estate as at the date of death. Collecting assets then follows, and the time this takes varies depending on how easy it is to liquidate the assets. For example, if the main asset is a property not much progress can often be made until it has been sold. Once all the estate assets have been collected and any debts and the estate expenses paid, steps can be taken to distribute and finalise the estate. In some cases, the estate will have received untaxed income during the administration period or a property will have been sold for more that the death value. In either case it may be necessary for the estate to file income or capital gains tax returns before finalisation.

Speak to Us

It is difficult to provide a one size fits all quote for estate administrations. If you would like to get a better idea how much our services will cost you please contact us and let us know more about your case. We will then provide you with a personalised quote or fee estimate. If we cannot provide that based on what you tell us we will let you know what further information we need to be able to do so. Ultimately we want to provide accurate information about our charges to ensure that we start relationships with new clients on a transparent and positive note.

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