Costs of Professional Executors Renouncing

A client asked me to deal with the administration of his mother’s estate recently. My firm was already acting for him, as attorney, in a matter relating to his mother’s property when she died.

The Will appoints my client and the partners of another solicitors’ firm as executors. My client has asked the firm to renounce and it has said that it will do so at a cost of £250 plus VAT. In the next breath, the firm has offered a fixed fee for obtaining the Grant of £750 plus VAT.

The estate (including lifetime gifts and after reliefs) is probably just below the double nil rate band, and there should be no tax to pay as a transferable nil rate band is available. However, the application for the Grant will require an IHT400, rather than an IHT205, as a claim for BPR will need to be made. Therefore, it is not completely straightforward.

Obviously I am not asking for examples of what people charge for probate or renouncing, and please do not post them in reply as I do not want to be accused of creating a cartel or price-fixing!

It just seems slightly odd to me that a renunciation can cost £250 plus VAT, when that is a whole one-third of what it would cost the same firm to deal with the application for probate itself. In that context, the renunciation fee doesn’t really look like a reasonable administrative fee, but more a penalty to deter a lay executor from instructing another firm.

I should say that I am not against firms making an administrative charge for renouncing, and it was only when I thought about it in the context of the fixed fee probate quote that I even began to question it. So, is my reasonableness radar faulty? What do other forum members think?

Steve Carter
Setfords Solicitors

£250 does not sound unreasonable for renouncing. £750 appears like a sprat to catch a mackerel.

Tony Pearce
GA Solicitors

We queried this with the SRA a couple of years ago. Assuming your firm prepares the renunciation, all the other firm has to do is sign. The SRA takes a view that a fee of more than about £50 to do this is unreasonable and would uphold a complaint if the renouncing firm charged a larger fee. Unless your client is daft enough to go with a firm which quotes £250 to renounce and £750 to complete an IHT400, I suggest you contact the SRA and then relay their views to the previous firm.

Amanda Freeman