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Probate - Solicitor's Fee

  • 07-11-2022 3:04pm
    Registered Users Posts: 2,434 ✭✭✭

    A quick general query; my family and I have been awaiting the completion of a Probate application for over 2 years now. My understanding is it's a fixed solicitor's fee of 1-2% of the estate plus VAT; is it truly fixed or can a solicitor 'manufacture' more of a fee in delaying the process to force chargeable calls and e-mails via us chasing updates?


  • Registered Users Posts: 25,108 ✭✭✭✭coylemj

    Too late for that, you should have negotiated the fee before you engaged him.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,434 ✭✭✭Shred

    Well it was one of my family members who was appointed executor in the will and so had responsibility to see the whole process through. I feel I need to step in now as they've taken it no closer to completion though.

    So it's not a fixed fee then?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,862 ✭✭✭Citizen  Six

    The solicitor should have sent a letter of engagement, listing out terms and fees. Without it they can try and charge you whatever you want. They will probably have control of any accounts, so kind of have you over a barrel. You can make a complaint to the Law Society, but they aren't really there to help people like you.

    Have you tried calling the solicitor, without saying who you are, and just asking about probate and what they charge? Possibly send an email so you have it in writing. At least it would give you some idea.

    Has the solicitor told your family member executor what the delay is?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,434 ✭✭✭Shred

    Cheers, unfortunately my sibling is beyond useless in these types of situations and thus I feel I have to step in at this late stage. Everything you have said may have occurred but I will need to check with them.

    Regarding the delays, the blame is being placed squarely on the courts service and while that's not beyond the realms of possibility I'm not fully buying that; I feel it's likely a combination of all (3) parties but fear perhaps it could be an attempt to increase their fee also as I'd mentioned.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,862 ✭✭✭Citizen  Six

    Same thing happened to me. Elder sibling put in charge, when they shouldn't have been, as they weren't capable.

    We were unfortunate in that the executor wasn't chasing the solicitor. Then the solicitor showed up in the papers for stealing and gambling with clients money and his accounts were frozen. His brother, who partnered at the firm, claimed to know nothing about what was going on, then took over. Charged an exorbitant rate knowing that clients were afraid they might lose their money. We complained to the Law Society and got some of it back. Still don't trust solicitors now though!

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  • Registered Users Posts: 25,108 ✭✭✭✭coylemj

    Your problem is that the solicitor may refuse to deal with you. Your sibling (the executor) is the client. I seriously doubt that the solicitor is delaying things simply to expand the bill by charging you for more phone calls and e-mails as you anxiously enquire about progress. Has the probate application been submitted to the local probate office? In Dublin, it's a dedicated office in Smithfield, elsewhere it's typically the local Circuit Court.

    What I would do is find someone who uses a different local solicitor (or just knows one socially) and use that route to enquire if there are delays in the local probate office.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,434 ✭✭✭Shred

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,434 ✭✭✭Shred

    Cheers, I thought the same but my sibling has made arrangements for me to call and the solicitor is apparently fine with this - I'll find out soon!

    Something's just not right but until I speak with them I won't really have a clear picture. It's always a possibility that as it's a modest estate and the fee will be reflective of that...they likely have bigger (more lucrative) fish to fry!

  • Registered Users Posts: 39,674 ✭✭✭✭ohnonotgmail

    If they quoted a fixed fee (to which they add vat and any outlays) then there is no benefit in stringing it out for the solicitor

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,105 ✭✭✭Deeec

    The delay could be caused by the solicitor or the delay could be due to the executor not carrying out their role. Do you know if your sibling has provided all requested information to the solicitor? Do you know if probate had been issued. Some estates have to be reviewed by social welfare before distribution of assests can happen - could this be the case here ( if it is then this process can take a long time).

    People picking useless relatives and friends as their executor is a huge problem. Its happened in my family and I know its also going to happen in my husbands family - inlaws have picked the laziest, couldnt care less person as their executor - he doesnt even live in the country! Solicitors should mention this to people when making a will to ensure that they are picking a suitable intelligent person as their executor.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,434 ✭✭✭Shred

    From what I've been told (pinch of salt and all that), all required information was provided long ago and it's been between the solicitor and Probate office for many months now.

    I'll be making contact with the solicitor later in the week as my sibling's unavailable currently and I will need to catch up with them first.

  • Registered Users Posts: 412 ✭✭Dubwat

    Staff shortages and solicitor errors contributing to probate grant delays (Irish Times, 25 Oct 2022)

    An error rate of up to 60 per cent by solicitors in probate applications and a lack of staff in probate offices are contributing to delays in issuing probate grants, causing anxiety for house buyers and sellers.

    An approximate four-month wait for a grant of probate from the Dublin probate office, which deals with half of applications nationally, applies only to error-free applications with a considerably longer waiting time when applications contain errors.

    My brother is the executor of our mother's estate and we're in a similar position to the OP, although we haven't gone past the 12 month mark yet. My brother never received a letter of engagement and communications have been extremely poor. On several occasions, the solicitor has received documentation that needed my brother's signature and there's been a ~2 week gap in contacting my brother. And when my brother visits the solicitor in person, he gets the impression that the solicitor is looking at the file as if it's all new to him. Phone calls and emails go unanswered for days.

    We're almost at the stage where we're thinking of getting a new solicitor but we don't know if that's practically possible and then there's the cost.

    Funnily enough, our solicitor is in the same neighbourhood as Citizen Six above (but a different firm)

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,434 ✭✭✭Shred

    I saw that IT article a couple of weeks back but there's suspicion the Courts Service/Probate Office may be passing the book and fudging the numbers a little...

    Otherwise, our experience would reflect yours @Dubwat