Who we are, our qualifications and the benefits of using a regulated practitioner.

All of our team are happy to be contacted for a “no obligation” chat. We want you to feel comfortable with who you are instructing before you commit.


Who runs the department?

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas, Partner at FHGChris is a law graduate from Trinity College, Cambridge. A solicitor and partner in the firm he heads of our Private Client department. Chris has based in our Brighton office since joining the firm in 2004. He qualified as a solicitor in 1995 and has 23 years post-qualification experience in private client work.

He is a full member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP): the global professional association for practitioners who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning. He is also a member of the Law Society private client section. He specialises in capital taxes planning (primarily inheritance tax), trusts, wills, lasting powers of attorney and provides compassionate advice to clients and assists them in the probate process and administering estates

Chris can be contacted on 01273 666323 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rhiannon Winter 

Rhiannon Winter, Partner at FHGRhiannon is a solicitor and partner who qualified in 2000. In 2013, Rhiannon joined our private client department since when she has specialised in preparing wills, lasting powers of attorney, helping clients through the probate process and advising on the associated taxes.   

She is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and holds STEP Advanced Certificates in both the Administration of Estates and the Administration of Trusts.  Rhiannon is a Partner and is based in, and oversees our Shoreham office.

Rhiannon can be contacted on 01273 467473 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ursula Tanner

Ursula Tanner FHG Trust and Estate ExecutiveUrsula is a law graduate of Zurich University. She has been working in the legal profession in England since 1989. Ursula qualified as a full member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) in May 2006 and has concentrated on private client work throughout her legal career.

She specialises in preparing wills, lasting powers of attorney, Court of Protection work and the probate process. She has been with Fitzhugh Gates since 2014 and is based in our Shoreham office.

Ursula can be contacted on 01273 467470

Elaine Robertson

Elaine Robertson FHG SolicitorElaine is a law graduate from the University of Sussex.  After qualifying as a solicitor in 2003 and working in private practice, Elaine worked in-house before joining Fitzhugh Gates in April 2018 after a period of maternity leave and is now based in our Brighton office. 

Elaine works in the private client department specialising in wills, probate and the administration of estates, lasting powers of attorney, trusts and inheritance tax related matters. 

Elaine can be contacted on 01273 666319 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

Regardless of who works on your matter they will be supervised by Chris Thomas who is head of our Private Client department. Where Chris deals with the matter personally the matter will be supervised by Rhiannon Winter (Partner).

 

 


Why you should choose to use a regulated practitioner like FHG

Our firm is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). There are many benefits of instructing a qualified and regulated practitioner. These include our adherence to core principles which require us to:

  • uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice;
  • act with integrity;
  • not allow our independence to be compromised;
  • act in the best interests of each client;
  • provide a proper standard of service to our clients; 
  • behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in us and in the provision of legal services;
  • comply with our legal and regulatory obligations and deal with our regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner;
  • run our business or carry out our roles in the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles;
  • run our business or carry out our roles in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity; and
  • protect client money and assets.

Clients of SRA regulated organisations are also protected against negligence and dishonesty by firms and individuals through professional indemnity insurance and compensation arrangements.


Our Private Client Services and Fees

Probate/Estate administration

Our Probate services include:

1. Actions typically carried out before obtaining a grant 

  • Verifying the fact of death and registering the death with the Registrar (where no family available to register the death).
  • Arranging funeral where no family available/willing to make arrangements.
  • Verifying the identity of clients.
  • Advising on the meaning of the Will/the implications of the intestacy rules if the deceased died without a Will.
  • Advising personal representatives on their duties and responsibilities.
  • Arranging insurance (at cost) for deceased’s property and potentially other assets or liaising with deceased’s existing insurers to maintain cover.
  • Contacting life and pension companies.
  • Arranging payment of funeral invoice direct with deceased’s bank.
  • Preparation of any renunciations of executorship or notices to co-executors.
  • Arranging a Will and asset search (at cost) if requested by clients.
  • Contacting asset holders and creditors.
  • Collating information about assets and liabilities.
  • Arranging valuations of assets for inheritance tax purposes.
  • Advising on the appropriate inheritance tax account to be completed.
  • Obtaining inheritance tax reference where required.
  • Completing and submitting inheritance tax return to HMRC (due within 12 months after the end of the month of death).
  • Completing claim forms for inheritance tax allowances including any transferable allowances.
  • Paying some or all of the inheritance tax due (interest runs on inheritance tax from 6 months after the end of the month of death).
  • Registering complex estates with HMRC online estates register.
  • Liaising with DWP to ensure benefit and pension claims are settled.
  • Liaising with council regarding council tax and dealing with utility companies.
  • Preparation of oath and filing probate application. 

This stage is usually completed within 6 months of death often earlier.

Factors that may delay this stage include delay in receiving instructions following death, estates where there is a coroner's inquest, probate disputes, insolvent estates, estates containing assets that are difficult to value (such as private company shares which may require specialist valuation) or where there are difficulties in raising funds to pay inheritance tax.

2. Actions typically carried out after the grant issues

  • Arranging notices to protect clients from deceased’s “unknown creditors”.
  • Sending sealed copies of grant to asset holders.
  • Providing client account facilities to remove need for executors to open a specific executor account to handle estate funds.
  • Discharging liabilities.
  • Finalising income and capital gains tax liabilities up to the date of death and any liabilities arising during the administration.
  • Finalising inheritance tax affairs. 
  • Verifying identity and solvency of beneficiaries prior to distribution.
  • Advising on timing of distributions and making payments of specific legacies and arranging payment of interim distributions of residue (as appropriate)
  • Preparation of estate accounts, obtaining client and beneficiary approval and final distribution of the estate. 

This stage is usually completed within a year of death or shortly afterwards.

Factors that may delay this stage include problems in selling assets (e.g. selling property in a slow market), difficulties in identifying beneficiaries, probate disputes, and finalising liabilities with HMRC (for example in complex estates or where there are overseas assets).

Our Guide for personal representatives and bereaved families provides more information about the process which you can read here 

3. Exclusions from standard probate service and fees

(Please ask us to prepare a bespoke quote if any of the points below apply).

  • Estates with overseas assets.
  • Insolvent estates.
  • Estates with more than 10 beneficiaries.
  • Estates with more than 10 assets.
  • Estates with intangible assets e.g. goodwill, patents or copyrights.
  • Estates including significant business or agricultural assets.
  • Taxable estates i.e. subject to inheritance tax .
  • Where a long form inheritance tax account must be delivered even if the estate is not taxable e.g. significant lifetime gifts were made or there is a claim to transfer part of the inheritance tax allowances of a predeceased spouse or civil partner.
  • Contested estates.
  • Locating beneficiaries or establishing a family tree.
  • Conveyancing of property, whether sale or transfer to beneficiaries.
  • Advice to beneficiaries in that capacity including options for varying their entitlement.
  • Inspecting estate properties pending disposal.

4. Typical disbursements (payments to third parties) during administration

  • Swearing of oath £5 per personal representative plus £2 for each will/codicil per personal representative.
  • Probate Registry application fee - £155. Free where estate is below £5,000. Note a new Probate Registry fee structure is planned (as outlined below) commencing April 2019. Full dates and details are subject to confirmation.
  • Sealed copies of the probate - 50p per copy. At least one per asset is recommended and typically a minimum of 10 copies are obtained at a cost of £5.00.
  • Statutory adverts in The London Gazette and a local newspaper for creditors, designed to protect the personal representative against unexpected claims - typically around £275 to £300 inclusive of VAT.
  • Financial Asset Search including a Will search – around £125 plus VAT. 
  • Electronic transfer of funds - £30 per transaction including our administration charge, bank fees and VAT on both. 
  • Land Registry copy documents – typically £3 per property (£6 where a plan is required) plus VAT
  • Bankruptcy pre-distribution searches – typically £2 plus VAT per beneficiary. These may need to be repeated where beneficiaries receive interim payments of their entitlement.
  • Where an estate is subject to inheritance tax this can impact significantly on the estate available for distribution to the beneficiaries. The attached link to HMRC provides various calculators that can help you to establish what liability to tax may apply but they are no substitute for professional advice because this is a very complex area. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/hmrc-tools-and-calculators
 New proposed probate registry application fees from April 2019 
 Value of estate   Fee
 Up to £50,000  No fee
 £50,001 to £300,000  £250
 £300,001 to £500,000  £750
 £500,001 to £1,000,000  £2,500
 £1,000,001 to £1,600,000  £4,000
 £1,600,001 to £2,000,000  £5,000
 £2,000,001 and above  £6,000

The fee will be payable on application for a grant and will be payable by the client (court fees paid on behalf of the estate can be recovered from the estate - funds allowing - after the grant issues and funds have been released).

5. Typical Fitzhugh Gates fees for standard probate service

These fees apply to new instructions received from 1 December 2018. Existing matters will be charged in accordance with details of fees and our terms and conditions already supplied.

Our standard probate service fee for qualifying estates to include the actions set out under 1 & 2 above is £4,000 plus VAT and disbursements.

Our conveyancing department will be happy to quote separately for dealing with residential property contained within an estate - you can review our typical fees for residential sales here.

VAT at the prevailing rate is added where required by law.

6. Typical Fitzhugh Gates fees where an estate does not qualify for our standard probate service 

See 3 above for factors that will exclude our standard probate service fee. We will provide a bespoke quote for such estates (which we refer to in these notes as complex estates) and in some circumstances we may be able still to fix a fee with you at the outset.

These fees apply to new instructions received from 1 December 2018. Existing matters will be charged in accordance with details of fees and our terms and conditions already supplied.

We hope you will understand that when quoting via our website in complex estates it is not always possible to be precise, because first we need to know the detail of what is involved. Accordingly the likely number of hours required to complete the task is unknown and the fee examples below can only be indicative. 

Our indicative fees set out below use a range and are based on percentages of the value of the estate. We hope they will provide potential clients with a greater understanding at the outset of what our overall fees might be in any given estate. Fees in complex estates may be up to 3% of the value estate, and usually somewhere between 1.5% to 3%.We set out some examples:

 INDICATIVE PROBATE FEES from 1 December 2018
 Value of complex estate (gross)   Indicative fee range   Typical fee 
 Up to £300,000  £4,500 to £9,000 plus VAT  £5,000 plus VAT
 Up to £400,000  £6,000 to £12,000 plus VAT  £7,500 plus VAT
 Up to £500,000  £7,500 to £15,000 plus VAT  £8,500 plus VAT
 Up to £600,000  £9,000 to £18,000 plus VAT  £10,000 plus VAT 
 Up to £700,000  £10,500 to £21,000 plus VAT   £11,500 plus VAT 
 Up to £800,000  £12,000 to £24,000 plus VAT   £13,000 plus VAT 
 Up to £900,000  £13,500 to £27,000 plus VAT   £15,000plus VAT 
 Up to £1,000,000  £15,000 to £30,000 plus VAT   £17,500 plus VAT 
 Above £1,000,000  £15,000 to £30,000 plus VAT   £20,000 plus VAT 

Note in larger estates, although often more complex, fees expressed as a percentage of the gross estate tend to be lower. It is unlikely any estate that we are asked to administer would incur fees over £30,000 plus VAT and in larger estates we would be happy to discuss a cap on fees with you.

Factors that influence where within the fee range any given estate may fall and the application of a discretionary value element include:

  • The number of beneficiaries (higher numbers usually mean higher fees).
  • The number of assets (higher numbers usually mean higher fees).
  • The nature of assets (shares and bonds tend to require more investment of time than cash assets).

Excluded from the fees above are the following (separate fee estimates can be provided):

  • Contested proceedings relating to an estate.
  • Locating beneficiaries or establishing a family tree.
  • Conveyancing of property, whether sale or transfer to beneficiaries.
  • Advice to beneficiaries in that capacity including options for varying their entitlement.
  • Inspecting estate properties pending disposal.

Our actual fee quote in your matter will draw on our past experiences of acting in a wide range of similar complex estates to arrive at the likely time involved in handling your matter. In addition to the hourly cost of time a discretionary value element may apply in some complex estates. The discretionary value element will not exceed 1% of the gross estate (less residence) and 0.5% of the value of the residence. It may be lower and in combination with the cost of our time the overall fee will remain within the fee ranges set out above.

 Current Hourly Rates (updated november 2018)
 Person   Hourly rate 
 Chris Thomas  £250 plus VAT
 Rhiannon Winter  £250 plus VAT
 Elaine Robertson  £250 plus VAT
 Ursula Tanner  £215 plus VAT

These rates are reviewed and updated annually. Clients with matters in progress will be notified of any changes before they take effect.

Our aim is to ensure that our fees are fair and reasonable and to balance the legitimate expectations of those inheriting from each estate with our commercial return so that we can continue to provide a viable quality service. Our fees have regard to all the circumstances of each case but in particular to:-

  • the complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the questions raised;
  • the skill, labour, specialised knowledge and responsibility involved;
  • the time spent on the matter;
  • the number and importance of the documents prepared or reviewed;
  • the amount or value of any money assets or property involved;
  • whether any land involved is registered land;
  • the importance of the matter to the client; and 
  • any agreed fee range.

7. Standard wills drafting service, lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) and our fees

Where we are instructed to prepare a Will within our standard fee we aim to:

  • obtain details of your assets.
  • your instructions for the Will.
  • draft your Will in accordance with your wishes.
  • arrange for legal execution of the Will.
  • store your Will (if required) subject to our terms of business.
  • provide you with a copy of your Will .

We will advise you as far as possible as to the potential inheritance tax consequences of the provisions of your Will but we will not advise you on the most tax effective method of drafting your Will or give you advice on lifetime tax planning as part of our standard Will drafting service. We will provide such advice for an additional fee.

8. Typical disbursements (payments to third parties) & supplemental charges during will preparation, preparation of LPAs

  • If you are a joint owner of property and require severance of a joint tenancy our costs will be £100 plus VAT per severance (to include registration at the Land Registry where the estate is already registered).
  • We charge a fee of £50 plus VAT if we write with your consent to a doctor to request an assessment of your capacity to make a Will or Codicil or LPA. This fee is in addition to any fees charged by the doctor.
  • The Office of Public Guardian (OPG) currently charges a registration fee of £82 per LPA (we advise if any remission or exemption from the fee may apply).
  • Second and additional certified copies of LPAs are charged at £10 plus VAT.

9. Standard will & LPA fees

  • Fees will ordinarily not exceed £275 plus VAT for a single Will or £395 plus VAT for mirror Wills. 
  • Our charges may be higher if the time spent or complexities require it in which case we will advise you accordingly.
  • Fees for the preparation of standard Codicils start at £185 plus VAT. 
  • Tax planning wills will be charged at the rate of £700 to £1,000 plus VAT.
  • Fees for an LPA will ordinarily not exceed £500 to include the provision of a certificate within the LPA (where requested), application to the OPG to register an LPA and provision of one certified copy LPA to client following registration.
  • Where your matter does not complete our fees will be charged on the basis of time spent but this will not exceed any standard fee unless we have informed you the standard fee will not apply.

10. Standard fees 

 Standard FEES applicable to multiple services from July 2018
 Service   Standard fee    Discount on individual fees 
 Single will  £275 plus VAT  N/A
 Single LPA (either)   £500 plus VAT  N/A
 Single will and one LPA   £650 plus VAT  £125
 Single will and two LPA's   £950 plus VAT  £325 
 Two LPA's   £800 plus VAT   £200 
 Mirror wills  £395 plus VAT   £155 
 Mirror wills and one LPA each   £1,100 plus VAT   £450 
 Four LPA's  £1,500 plus VAT   £500 
 Mirror wills and four LPA's   £1,750 plus VAT   £800 

Where your matter does not complete our fees will be charged on the basis of time spent but this will not exceed any standard fee unless we have informed you the standard fee will not apply.

A hard copy of this information is available on request via our reception.

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