“Private client legal services must address a complex variety of circumstances and needs. One size definitely does not fit all and our observation is that fixed costs often appear to have a built-in mark-up to reflect the inflexible nature of the costs being offered. Further, the level of value provided is then broadly inconsistent and subject to chance.” – Previn Doshi, PWD LAW Limited
We are happy to discuss costs with you as fully as you might need to make an informed decision about whether or not to instruct us. We have full confidence in the fairness of our costs and do not try to compete with other law firms or service providers. However, we do recommend strongly that you make full costs enquiries with a range of other law firms for consideration and comparison prior to deciding to instruct us. Firms’ websites should contain information on costs or you can obtain costs information by making telephone enquiries.
We offer a personal service from start to finish from a private client solicitor who is an experienced professional executor and trustee holding the TEP designation (see step.org), capable of advising on the full range of non-contentious and contentious probate and trust issues, including litigation. We find that our clients are driven primarily by a desire for strong advice, with costs being a secondary or tertiary issue. In 2019 and 2020, almost every new instruction accepted by us was by word of mouth recommendation.
In an age of increasingly aggressive spam and marketing contact, we strictly reserve the right to only respond to enquiries where the sender has provided us with their full name, email and telephone number. This data is treated in the strictest confidence and never conveyed to any third party, but is essential to enable us to verify genuine enquiries.
Estate administration (Probate) costs
Our view on estate administration (Probate) costs is that offering a fixed fee service or a “menu” of choices sounds fine in theory but can be inadvertently detrimental to the customer, who must be somehow cognisant at an early stage about what technical advice will or won’t be required. Determining this accurately is often not possible on the information available at the time. Moreover, helping someone in a meaningful way to decide what advice they want to pay for is practically impossible without giving substantive legal advice. This is because the issues involved tend to require a technical level of understanding, for example regarding taxation.
We nevertheless consider that it is possible to offer a fixed fee for Grant of Representation applications where there is no inheritance tax (“IHT”) to pay and other conditions exist. Then, we develop costs based on the time required to fulfil objectives. We believe that this is fairer since our costs then reflect more accurately the amount of work actually performed.
So, the basic cost of a Grant extraction where there is a valid Will to hand, no IHT to pay, the executors are in agreement and there is no challenge to the Will or estate, would be £1,080 plus VAT and disbursements. Here, the application for a Grant would involve a shortened HM Revenue & Customs IHT form referred to as an IHT205, sent directly to HM Courts & Tribunals Services. Such cases are commonplace. Costs would increase from here on a time-spent basis depending on additional needs. Previn Doshi’s current hourly rate is £270 plus VAT. There is an exceptionally wide range of circumstances that can arise for a Grant application outside of the most basic position given and we rarely find one case that mirrors another in terms of the work and advice needed. However, we have noticed that the majority of non-contentious Grant application instructions, even involving the calculation, mitigation and payment of IHT due upfront to HMRC, tend to fall within 5-15 hours of work, the top end of which is equivalent to £4,050 plus VAT and disbursements. We provide on request a full and detailed breakdown of time spent so that you can see exactly how we have spent our time working for you and what we have charged you for it.
Full estate administration is another consideration altogether. We will either advise on a Grant extraction only or on full tax-efficient estate administration, and nothing in-between. We have strong reasons for this based on careful observation and experience. During estate administration, opportunities can arise in the form of tax mitigation and we have observed that advice ideally needed can sometimes not be given by a law firm simply because a “menu” option for service was not selected at the outset, at a time when any tax mitigation or other opportunities were not fully appreciated or considered. As a result, the opportunity can come and go while no-one is any the wiser. In our opinion, the best way to approach more complex estate administration is to engage a law firm expert in the full range of potential issues, threats and opportunities in estate administration, so that matters such as protecting the estate, business and/or agricultural property relief, lifetime gifts, variations of the estate, appropriations, claims for loss relief and so on, can be examined and advised upon at need. For PWD LAW, it is therefore a risk management measure of the highest priority to offer only a full service outside of a basic Grant application.
We expect you to ask us about our costs and try to make speaking to us about them as comfortable as possible. Our sole objective here is to leave you feeling properly informed about our costs by being clear and upfront. It is not in our DNA to employ sales technique and if, at the end of any discussion, you just don’t want to go ahead, we will understand completely.
Estate administration (Probate) disbursements
Disbursements are payments made on your behalf by our firm, that we recoup from you later on as part of the invoicing process. Probate disbursements would normally include the court administration fee, and fee for additional copies of the Grant, which are currently £155, and £1.50 (per copy), respectively. The average disbursement outlay for us is £170 to include the court fee and the fee for 10 additional court sealed copies of the Grant. These court fees might vary from time to time.
In relation to other matters such as Wills, our basic charge is £405 plus VAT per Will. Costs for more complex Wills, for example involving trusts are charged for on a time-spent basis, but routinely fall within the 3-5 hour bracket (at Previn Doshi’s current hourly rate of £270 plus VAT). We remain satisfied that simple structure Wills are appropriately priced on a fixed cost basis given that the time value spent on these matters routinely exceeds the fixed cost. Thus, fixed cost simple structure Wills from a commercial perspective are unprofitable, but remain a fundamentally important legal service.
For Powers of Attorney and Trust advice, there is once again tremendous variation in the needs of clients and this can only be established by a proper fact-find interview. We will try to offer a fixed cost for our services where it appears to us that information is sufficiently clear to predict what is required at the start. If a potential client does not wish to proceed then we would only charge for the advice given at interview. We have rarely had a potential client for Powers or Attorney or Trust advice fail to proceed from an initial face to face meeting.
In other matters, we will charge on a time-spent basis with reference to Previn Doshi’s current hourly rate of £270 plus VAT, and estimate costs for you in bands of 5 hours (e.g. 5-10 hours, 10-15 hours, 7-12 hours, and so on). Since we are committed to providing upon request a detailed narrative to accompany our invoices, we carry a high level of certainty of being able to demonstrate to clients that our costs are fairly reflected by the chargeable work performed. Sometimes it is necessary to revise an initial estimate of costs, which we do at the earliest opportunity and explain as clearly as we can why a revision became necessary. Such revisions can be downwards as well as upwards since the only objective is to estimate the amount of work required at any given time to fulfil a client’s instructions.
Contentious probate and trusts
We have observed, in litigation of probate and trust issues, that a failure to get to grips with complex trust and tax issues lies at the root of wasteful correspondence, costs and misunderstanding on issues that should normally be a matter of ready acceptance between the parties. Being first and foremost specialists in non-contentious trusts, estates, Wills, estate planning and powers of attorney, we believe that this helps us overcome such fundamental issues.
The first consideration for anyone contemplating court action is ensuring that they understand the potential costs involved and have the financial means by which any action might be brought or defended, and secondly we believe that you must have a genuine case to bring or defend that you can stand behind legally. We generally do not support speculative claims as being in clients’ best interests.
As at March 2021, 100% of contentious cases handled by PWD LAW either settled prior to the issue of proceedings or through alternative dispute resolution after the issue of proceedings and before the end of pleadings (service of particulars of claim, defence and any counterclaim, and any reply and defence to any counterclaim). We instruct top-level counsel (a barrister) on complex and high value matters and believe that achieving favourable settlement is predicated on the strength of preparation and forward planning matters strategically to trial.
In terms of costs, we ask for a payment upfront on account of costs equivalent to 5 hours of work (£1,350 plus VAT) to cover a proper investigation and report about the viability and costs involved in any potential case. If matters proceed from there then it is on a time-spent basis. We occasionally adjust our hourly rates so that different tasks receive different rates, and this is done by agreement with a client, at all times trying to balance what is fair to us as a business and what is fair for our client.
We do not anticipate that we shall give you cause to complain. However, our Regulator rightly requires law firms to draw potential customers’ attention to the fact that when you are a client of the firm then you have a right to complain.
If you would like your complaint to be dealt with formally, then you should notify Previn Doshi immediately in writing (email is fine) and we will acknowledge your complaint in writing within 7 days and contact you or respond in writing and in full within 15 working days. Making a complaint will not affect how we handle your case.
The Legal Ombudsman can help you if we are unable to resolve your complaint ourselves. They will look at your complaint independently and once again it will not affect how we handle your case.
Before accepting a complaint for investigation, the Legal Ombudsman will check that you have tried to resolve your complaint with us first. If you have, then you must take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman:
If you would like more information about the Legal Ombudsman, please contact them.
Call: 0300 555 0333 between 9 am and 5 pm.
Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help if you are concerned about our behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.
Visit their website to see how you can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
You may also have a right to object to our bill by applying to the court for an assessment of that bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. Please also note that if all or part of a bill remains unpaid, we may be entitled to charge interest and reserve the right to do so at any point after the bill has become due.
pwdlaw limited | Unit 1a Spillmans Court, Middle Spillmans, Rodborough, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 3RU
E: firstname.lastname@example.org | T: 01453 758999
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