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What’s the deal?
A service for finding a competitively-priced probate solicitor. Final Duties claims to be the UK’s first independent broker for the work involved in administering a deceased person’s estate.
The intermediary uses a panel of 16 solicitor firms to provide a fixed-price quote for probate, which it claims will typically be half what a high-street solicitor would charge, or a quarter of a bank’s fees. There is no charge for the quote but Final Duties levies a fee of £295, including VAT, if the quote is accepted.
The broker also offers other services for bereaved families, including clearing and helping to sell properties, and arranging funerals.
Is this good?
Final Duties claims that up to 100,000 estates a year are overcharged for probate. Banks and solicitors charge as much as 4 per cent of the value of estates and often levy an additional hourly fee, it says. In many cases, firms are said to be reluctant to give fixed quotes before they start.
Families commonly end up using the bank or solicitor that is named in the will as an executor and frequently don’t complain about charges. The result is they can end up paying thousands of pounds more than necessary.
The quotes that Final Duties obtains are based on an assessment of the work, rather than a percentage of the estate. So relatively simple estates are most likely to benefit from its service. In some cases, it claims quotes have been as little as
an eighth of the fees families would have been charged.
The broker says the solicitors it uses are large, regional firms that have more than 10 people in their probate departments.
What’s the catch?
It can be difficult to get rid of existing banks and solicitors named as executors, who may say they must be used for the probate work. Final Duties has a series of letters for helping families jettison firms, including threats to complain to the Law Society and to get fees assessed.
The solicitors offered by the broker may not be local and while in many cases the service may come up with a competitive quote, for low-value estates a bank that charges on a simple percentage basis could prove better value.
What’s the alternative?
About one in eight families is said to handle probate itself rather than using banks, solicitors or other specialists.
Final Duties says probate work is time-consuming rather than difficult, with even a straightforward estate taking 10 to 15 hours to administer.
But as family executors could be personally liable if things go wrong, it could still be worth using an outside firm that has liability insurance, it warns.
For families wanting to shop around – so saving on Final Duties’ £295 fee – Unbiased.co.uk has an online search tool for finding local and specialist solicitors.
How do I find out more?
www.finalduties.co.uk or 0800 731 8722
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