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How long is it likely to take, and how much will it cost, if I instruct solicitors to help me as executor of a will?

How long it takes to administer an estate depends on its size and complexity. There can sometimes be a lot of work involved, even in the smallest estates.

It might be possible to sort out a relatively simple estate, with no inheritance tax to pay, in a couple of months. In more complex cases it can take months to get probate and a year or more before you have finished.

Going through all the deceased’s paperwork and contacting all the different organisations involved can be particularly laborious and time-consuming. You can help speed the process up — and keep legal costs down — if you do much of this yourself. But you are likely to want your solicitor to handle the more complex issues, such as completing inheritance tax forms and calculations.

Solicitors’ fees are typically based on an hourly rate, a percentage of the value of the estate, or a combination of the two. Sometimes a solicitor will help for a fixed fee. Total costs of around 2 per cent of the value of the estate are fairly typical, but it does depend on the circumstances and how much work is involved. Your solicitor will explain the likely costs when you first contact them.

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