Price Transparency for Clients

Introduction

Stevenson & Marshall LLP is a firm of solicitors and estate agents which is registered with the Law Society of Scotland. The Law Society has issued guidance on what is called Transparent Pricing, which recommends that information is made available to clients and potential clients about fees, outlays and costs that may be incurred when instructing us. The Guidance is in place for all firms in Scotland that offer legal services to consumers/private clients.

 

We have provided some examples of pricing for the range of services we offer. These are only examples, not definitive costs. This is because each legal case or transaction is unique.  Some kinds of work carry a fixed fee, others are calculated by a scale or unit cost varying with the amount of time or other effort that is appropriate for the completion of the case or transaction. Outlays are charged over and above the legal fees and are costs paid out by the Firm on behalf of the client to other companies, offices, organisations – e.g., the sheriff court, Registers of Scotland, search companies, local authorities and others. These charges are incurred by the client as a necessary part of the work being done. No profit is made by the firm on outlays, they are simply passed on to the client at whatever cost is charged to us.

 

We have outlined various examples below, and hope they are helpful in describing the kind of charges which may be incurred for your work.  It is unlikely that any of the examples below exactly match your particular circumstances, however, all work to be carried out by solicitors in any firm must be preceded by a written estimate or quotation of fees, vat and outlays which will let you know in advance where possible, depending on the nature of the work, how much you will have to pay for the work we are carrying out on your behalf.

 

Clients and potential clients reading this Price Transparency material should contact one of our solicitors for a specific and detailed estimate/quotation of fees, as well as discussing the work to be done and any other preliminary matters.

 

Areas of work

 

Wills

Making a Will is one of the most crucial things you can do to protect your assets and your loved ones. It is one of the most important documents you will ever sign.  A properly drawn up Will ensures that your assets and personal possessions are shared in accordance with your wishes after your death.

The laws of inheritance in Scotland can be complicated and we guide our clients through these complexities specific to their own circumstances.  We will meet with clients to fully discuss their requirements, carefully advise them of their options and prepare a tailor-made Will for them.

Our charges to prepare Wills for clients are usually:-

Single Will                                                                              £150 (plus VAT of £30)

Mirror image Wills for couples                                           £200 (plus VAT of £40)

There may be occasions where our client requires more extensive work regarding complex family situations, advice regarding Inheritance Tax planning or care home costs and we may charge an additional fee depending upon the work involved.

There are no outlays associated with this process and we do not currently charge a storage fee to store deeds for our clients.

 

Powers of Attorney

We actively encourage all of our clients to grant Powers of Attorney and consider it be just as important as making a Will. A Power of Attorney is a legal document which gives someone you trust authority to act and make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so.

If someone loses capacity it can often come as a real shock that their immediate family or “next of kin” have no automatic legal authority to look after their affairs. Without a Power of Attorney, your assets are essentially frozen, no-one has the power to deal with your money, manage your welfare or make important decisions on your behalf. If you have lost capacity and have not granted Power of Attorney then a much more lengthy and expensive Guardianship application must be made to the court instead (see Guardianship).

Given the important nature of Power of Attorney the document is lengthy and complex and is specifically tailored to your requirements. The process to put one in places involves meeting with one of our solicitors, the drafting of the Power of Attorney document, its completion by the client and certification by the solicitor at the same time, and then being registered with the Office of the Public Guardian Scotland (OPG) to take effect.

Our charges to prepare Powers of Attorney for clients are usually:-

Single POA                                                                            £300 (plus VAT of £60)

POAs for couple                                                                   £400 (plus VAT of £80)

There is also an outlay (currently £81) to register the Power of Attorney with the Office of the Public Guardian.  In some circumstances, a medical report may be required to confirm whether the client has capacity and the doctor will usually charge a fee for this.

We do not currently charge any additional fees if a home or hospital visit is required.

 

Living Wills

A Living Will (also known as an Advance Directive) is a legal document which sets out the circumstances in which a person does not want to receive certain medical treatments, should they be unable to communicate their wishes at some time in the future. It allows someone to express their wishes in respect of how far they want medical staff to go to keep them alive following a life-altering event such as a major stroke, paralysis or the later stages after a terminal diagnosis.

We can prepare a Living Will at the same time as preparing a Power of Attorney for a client and in which case we do not usually charge an additional fee for this.  However, if we are dealing with this as a standalone piece of work then our charges are usually:-

Single Living Will                                                                  £150 (plus VAT of £30)

Living Wills for couple                                                         £200 (plus VAT of £40)

 

Guardianship (Incapacity)

When a person does not have the mental capacity to understand and grant a Power of Attorney, the alternative is for a suitable and appropriate individual(s) to make an application to the Sheriff Court for themselves to be appointed as welfare and/or financial guardian to that person.  

This process is complex and requires the gathering of detailed information, not only in relation to the incapable person, but also in relation to the individual(s) who are applying.  The process involves obtaining reports from a Mental Health Officer and two separate medical reports of incapacity, one of which must come from a suitably qualified psychiatric consultant.   These reports must satisfy the court that the orders are necessary and of benefit to the incapable person and that the individual applying is suitable to undertake the role of guardian.  The process also involves sending copies of the application and reports to all next of kin of the incapable person and anyone with a close or caring relationship to them, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, the Public Guardian and the Chief Social Work Officer.   It also involves a personal appearance at court by the solicitor to conduct at least one formal hearing in front of the Sheriff. 

Legal Aid is available for guardianship orders where welfare powers are necessary.  However, even where free Legal Aid is made available, this does not necessarily mean that there will be no cost to the incapable person.   Where the incapable person has sufficient funds of their own, the Sheriff may order that the legal expenses of applying for the guardianship should be paid by them rather than by Legal Aid.  

The legal fees of obtaining a welfare and/or financial guardianship order vary considerably and are dependent on what orders are necessary and the extent of the incapable person’s capital and income.  The exact cost of applying for a guardianship order cannot easily be specified in advance as it is dependent on so many different factors unique to each case.

Typical legal fees associated with a welfare and financial guardianship application can easily range between £4,000 and £6,000.  In addition, there are outlays which include Sheriff Court fees of £132, fees for the two medical reports which could be in the region of £400, if Sheriff Officers are necessary to serve court documents then their cost would be in the region of £120 per service.  If the Sheriff decides that a Safeguarder is necessary (this is usually another solicitor who is appointed to obtain the views, and, if necessary, to act on behalf of the incapable person) then their fees could be in the region of £3,000.  Registration fees payable to the Public Guardian are £91 and fees due to the Registers of Scotland in relation to any heritable property are £70.   There is also the requirement to obtain a Bond of Caution (which is an insurance policy to protect the incapable person’s estate) and the cost of this is currently 0.11% of the value of the incapable person’s estate and this is payable annually by the appointed financial guardian. 

An assessment of all of the circumstances will be considered at the outset and a Terms of Business letter will be issued which will clearly outline the basis on which we will charge.     

Please note outlays payable to the Scottish Court Service are reviewed annually and may increase. Further information regarding Scottish Court Service fees are available on the Scottish Court Service website at www.scotcourts.gov.uk.

 

Purchase of Residential Property (Conveyancing)

If you are buying a new home, the work undertaken is relatively similar regardless of whether you are purchasing a flat, house, new-build property or even land. This type of transaction will usually involve: communications and advice by the solicitor with the client, completion of Anti Money Laundering procedures and ID checks, drafting of a formal written offer, liaising with estate agents and the seller’s solicitor, drawing up a range of documents including further missive letters and a disposition, examination of title, inspecting searches and reports, and mortgage security where necessary, arranging settlement (completion) of the transaction, obtaining and managing the funds from both client and mortgage lender, submission of a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) return and making payment of tax where applicable to Revenue Scotland and registering the new title (and security documentation where a lender is involved).

The fixed fee for this work may be £895 plus vat £179.

Outlays are dependent on price. For example, if you are buying a property for £200,000 with a mortgage, the outlays would be as follows:

  • £370 to Registers of Scotland for registration of the title;
  • £70 for registration of the mortgage;
  • £20 for Advance Notice for mortgage;
  • £300 for LBTT (reduced for first-time buyers and more – payment of Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) - if buying a second property).

LBTT and registration dues change on sliding scales dependant on the price of the property.

 

Sale of Residential Property (Conveyancing)

If you are selling property or land the work will usually involve: communication and advice given by a solicitor to the client, correspondence with the purchaser’s solicitor, drawing of documents including a formal legal acceptance of the buyer’s offer and further missives, provision of title, ordering of searches and reports, revising of a new title (disposition) and discharging mortgage where necessary, arranging settlement of the transaction, managing the funds from the buyer’s solicitor and redeeming an outstanding mortgage with the lender, registration of a discharge of security where necessary, reporting to and settling with the client.

The fixed fee for this work may be £895 plus vat £179.

Outlays are typically:

  • £70 for registration of a discharge;
  • £20 for Advance Notice for title; and
  • approximately £150 for title, property and mining searches.

 

Remortgage of residential property (Conveyancing)

We act for clients who are re-mortgaging their home. The work will usually involve: advice given by the solicitor with the client, examination of title, drafting a range of documents including a new mortgage security and a discharge of the existing mortgage, ordering and inspection of searches and reports, ordering and managing funds from the new lender, redeeming the existing mortgage and registering a discharge with the Registers of Scotland, settling the transaction, registration of new mortgage security.

The fixed fee for this work may be £450 plus vat £90.

Outlays are:

  • £70 for registration of the mortgage discharge;
  • £70 for registration of the new mortgage security;
  • £20 for Advance Notice for the security; and
  • approximately £150 for title, property and mining searches.

 

Discharge of security

Once you have paid off your mortgage in full, you will usually discharge the security held by your bank or lender. This process involves drafting a document which is then signed by your bank or lender to confirm that they no longer have a claim over your property. This document is then registered with the Registers of Scotland.

For a basic discharge of mortgage security, the fee may be £200 plus vat £40.

The outlay is a charge of £70 payable to the Registers of Scotland.

 

Separation (settlement out of court)

When a marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation breaks down there may be a range of legal matters to consider and resolve. These may include property sale/transfer, sharing of financial assets including pension interests, sharing of liabilities, residence of and contact with children, financial maintenance - even negotiating who gets the dog. This kind of work is often complex and time consuming. The work undertaken in each case varies immensely and therefore it is difficult to specify an exact fee. This work may involve meetings, consultations, collating valuations of assets and liabilities and instructing experts such as accountants, actuaries and medical professionals and drafting formal documents. Our fees are largely determined by the time we spend working on your case and the nature and length of the documents produced by us. We will issue our Terms of Engagement letter to you at the start of your case and it will specify our time and line/hourly/unit rate charge. We will have your file feed on an interim basis when it is possible to do and as your case progresses by an external law accountant.

A possible fee, based on: the time and line rate, there being no investigation of financial matters pertaining to the breakdown of the relationship, no negotiation of financial matters, in circumstances in which parties have agreed the settlement terms and the terms only require to be captured in a legally binding Minute of Agreement, may be £1,800 plus vat of £330.

Outlays may include a share of the registration dues of the Minute of Agreement: £20 per extract depending on the length of the Minute of Agreement.

Where a pension share is required, a pension share implementation fee is due to the Pension Administrators/Trustees. The fee payable to the Pension Administrators/Trustees vary from pension scheme to pension scheme. £750 may be the outlay payable by you. This sum is payable after divorce.

 

Divorce, Dissolution of Civil Partnership and Cohabitation claim under section 28 of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006

The fee for a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership varies depending on the procedure that requires to be followed.

The fixed fee for a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership using the simplified procedure because there are no children under 16 and no financial issues to be resolved, may be £230 plus vat of £46, Scan and Store of £15.00 plus vat of £3.00 and outlays of £128.00 payable to the court for lodging the application.

The fixed fee for a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership using the ordinary procedure because there are children under 16 years and no financial issues to be resolved may be £800 plus vat of £160, Scan and Store £15.00 plus vat of £3.00 and outlays of: £159.00 payable to the court for a warrant and £70.00 for a Minute for Decree.

If we are also arranging implementation of a pension share after divorce, the fee may be £200 plus vat together with outlays, specifically the pension administrators’ fees for implementing the pension share which vary from scheme to scheme.

Sometimes when a marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation breaks down, financial matters and/or arrangements for any child or children of the relationship, cannot be resolved amicably, and court proceedings are initiated. This kind of work more than most others cannot be costed exactly in advance as each case is different. This work may involve meetings, consultations, correspondence, collating valuations of assets and liabilities and instructing experts such as accountants, actuaries and medical professionals. These cases involve the drafting of court documents as well as multiple court hearings including an evidential hearing if the case cannot be settled amicably between parties. Our fees are largely determined by the time we spend working on your case and the nature and length of the documents produced. We will issue our Terms of Engagement letter to you at the start of your case and it will specify our time and line/hourly/unit rate charge. We will have your file feed on an interim basis when it is possible to do and as your case progresses by an external law accountant. Outlays will be £132 for Initial Writ; £132 for Notice of Intention to Defend £120 for Record; £57 to fix a Proof;  £242 for each day of Proof/Debate/; £51 for Motions and Minutes. Please note outlays payable to the Scottish Court Service are reviewed annually and may increase. Further information regarding Scottish Court Service fees are available on the Scottish Court Service website at www.scotcourts.gov.uk.

Sometimes, in cases involving children, the Sheriff will appoint an independent solicitor to act as a reporter. The reporter will be asked by the Sheriff to produce a report to the court after investigation on the case as a whole or on a specific issue(s). The outlay for such a report may be £4000 plus vat. You may be found responsible by the court for all or half of that outlay. Please note that reporters’ fees are largely determined by the time spent working on their report and the nature and length of the report produced. The reporter’s fee will be assessed at the reporter’s time and line/hourly/unit rate charge.

Civil Legal Aid may also be available and your eligibility and any financial contribution thereto is determined by the Scottish Legal Aid Board. A possible fee (based on our hourly/time and line formula) for an application for Civil Legal Aid may be £300 plus vat of £60. Legal Aid Advice and Assistance may also be available and any financial contribution thereto is determined by the Scottish Legal Aid Board. Legal Aid Advice and Assistance may cover the cost of applying for Civil Legal Aid. Further information regarding Legal Aid is available at www.slab.org.uk.

 

Adoption

We can deal with all types of adoption whether it be as a step-parent or adoption of a child who has been placed by an Adoption Agency or Local Authority.  Our fee for dealing with an unopposed Adoption Petition may be £700 plus VAT and outlays.  The outlay for submitting the Adoption Petition is determined by the Scottish Court Service and is currently £132. Additionally, if postal service of the Petition cannot be achieved on some or all of the people or organisations the court has ordered that we serve the Petition on, then the fee for instructing Sheriff Officers is in the region of £120.   There may be additional costs, for example, if extract marriage or birth certificates are required and if service is required on an individual who lives abroad. 

If an Adoption Petition is opposed in court then our fee will revert to our hourly/time and line rate and we will discuss with you the prospects of success and the potential increase in costs including further outlays to bring matters to a conclusion.

Civil Legal Aid may also be available and your eligibility and any financial contribution thereto is determined by the Scottish Legal Aid Board. A possible fee (based on our hourly/time and line formula) for an application for Civil Legal Aid may be £300 plus vat of £60. Legal Aid Advice and Assistance may also be available and any financial contribution thereto is determined by the Scottish Legal Aid Board. Legal Aid Advice and Assistance may cover the cost of applying for Civil Legal Aid. Further information regarding Legal Aid is available at www.slab.org.uk.

Please note outlays payable to the Scottish Court Service are reviewed annually and may increase. Further information regarding Scottish Court Service fees are available on the Scottish Court Service website at www.scotcourts.gov.uk.

 

Child law matters: contact and residence cases

Legal matters regarding children including with whom a child should live, have contact with and decisions about their lives, is an area of work which cannot be costed exactly in advance as each case is different. This work may involve meetings, consultations, the drafting of court documents as well as multiple court hearings including an evidential hearing if the case cannot be resolved amicably between parties. At the start of your case, you will receive our The Terms of Engagement letter which will specify our time and line/hourly/unit rate charge.

Sometimes, in cases involving children, the Sheriff will appoint an independent solicitor to act as a reporter. The reporter will be asked by the Sheriff to produce a report to the court after investigation on the case as a whole or on a specific issue(s). The outlay for such a report may be £4000 plus vat. You may be found responsible by the court for all or half of that outlay. Please note that reporters’ fees are largely determined by the time spent working on their report and the nature and length of the report produced. The reporter’s fee will be assessed at the reporter’s time and line/hourly/unit rate charge.

Civil Legal Aid may also be available and your eligibility and any financial contribution thereto is determined by the Scottish Legal Aid Board. A possible fee (based on our hourly/time and line formula) for an application for Civil Legal Aid may be £300 plus vat of £60. Legal Aid Advice and Assistance may also be available and any financial contribution thereto is determined by the Scottish Legal Aid Board. Legal Aid Advice and Assistance may cover the cost of applying for Civil Legal Aid. Further information regarding Legal Aid is available at www.slab.org.uk.

Please note outlays payable to the Scottish Court Service are reviewed annually and may increase. Further information regarding Scottish Court Service fees are available on the Scottish Court Service website at www.scotcourts.gov.uk.

 

Employment matters

In line with our policy for General Business (see below) we can offer a brief free consultation to ascertain if your situation is one with which we are able to assist.

If you have been provided with paperwork regarding a proposal to end your employment (a Settlement Agreement) we can usually work within the figures provided for in the Agreement by way of contribution to Legal Costs.

 

General advice and business

As general practice solicitors this Firm takes on a range of clients and cases/transactions. Sometimes the work is preliminary advice, or assistance with a minor or brief legal issue requiring correspondence with other parties or solicitors, and/or creating of legal documentation. There really is no limit to the range of needs of clients when it comes to legal services and processes.

An example of a miscellaneous charge would be notarising/certifying documents. For such a one-off service we would normally charge a fee of £75 plus vat (£15) per document. There would no outlays charged for work of this nature.

For all work that is not covered under a specific heading we will charge work out on the basis of the time spent dealing with matters on your behalf. Given the extremely varied nature of the work we can be asked to undertake it is very difficult to give an estimate of our fees in advance. We will in such circumstances issue our Terms of Engagement on a time-and-line/hourly/unit rate charge (currently £230 plus VAT per hour). Our current unit rate is £23 per unit plus VAT (£27.60) and this is reviewed each year on the 1st January. Any review of this charge will be intimated to you. Each unit is equivalent to 6 minutes of work and there are 10 units in an hour. When sending out our terms of business to you, which we would always send out to you at the commencement of any matter, we will also enclose along with our terms of business our schedule of charging. The schedule of charging is a document which sets out in detail how our time is charged for categories of work carried out on your behalf. example, correspondence including e-mails, letters and faxes are charged at 1.25 units per page in other words £23 plus VAT (in total £28.75). A page is defined as 125 words or part thereof. Another example would be a time spent on a telephone call. A telephone call lasting five minutes which be 1 unit of work and including VAT would be charged at £28.75 but a telephone call last 8 minutes would be 2 units of work including VAT would be charged at £57.50. We do accept that fees charged on this basis can sometimes mount up very quickly so to ensure as much transparency as possible we actively encourage that those carrying out work of this nature on your behalf to routinely issue fee notes at regular intervals.

 

Estate administration of a deceased person

The winding up of an estate after death can be complex and time-consuming and we are able to assist clients with this.

We can deal with all correspondence on behalf of the Executor(s). We can arrange to obtain valuations of all the deceased’s assets and property. We can prepare a full inventory of the estate ready for submission to the local sheriff court. If Inheritance Tax is due we can calculate this and present the inventory to HM Revenue & Customs. The court issues “Confirmation” (the Scottish equivalent of Probate) which is the formal document entitling the Executor(s) to gather in the estate. We can arrange for the assets to be sold or transferred to beneficiaries, for any debts or legacies to paid and for the funds distributed in accordance with the terms of the deceased’s will. We can draw up an account for approval by the Executor(s).

Our fees for estate administration are primarily based on the time spent dealing with matters. Given the extremely varied nature of estates, it is very difficult to give an estimate of our fees in advance. We will issue our Terms of Engagement on a time-and-line/hourly/unit rate charge (currently £230 plus VAT per hour). Our fees are assessed on this basis by an independent auditor. 

On some occasions where the Executor does not require us to deal with the full estate administration and we are instructed just to apply for Confirmation only then we can carry out this work on a fixed fees basis which is usually:-

Confirmation only service                                                   £850 (plus VAT of £170)

Outlays involved in estate administration may include:- Registers of Scotland fee to register Will (currently £20), Court Confirmation dues of (currently £266 for estates between £50,000 - £250,000 or £532 for estates over £250,000 plus £8 for each individual asset certificate if needed).

If the deceased did not leave a Will then additional work and outlays are likely which will include £19 for the court petition required to have an Executor appointed and a premium payable for a Bond of Caution (form of insurance required where there is no Will) the cost of which depends on the value of the estate (currently starting at a minimum premium of £270).

Claims against estates

When someone dies, people may sometimes be disappointed with the terms of the Will and may want to challenge it. We can provide advice regarding the grounds upon which a Will can be challenged and, where appropriate, raise any necessary court action. We can also provide advice to Executors if a claim or court action has been raised against the estate.

We can also provide advice regarding Legal Rights claims. Legal Rights are peculiar to Scots law and allow a spouse or child to claim a proportion of the estate irrespective of the terms of any Will. We can pursue Legal Rights claims on your behalf and review Legal Rights calculations to ensure you receive your correct entitlement.  

Our fees for these services vary because they very much depend upon the work involved and are usually charged on a time-and-line/hourly charge basis.

 

Trusts

We can assist clients through the complexities of setting up and running both family and charitable trusts.  Trusts can be set up for a variety of purposes such as to protect funds for the benefit of someone who is vulnerable due to mental incapacity and cannot manage their own money or who may be in a potentially difficult financial situation such as a difficult marriage or high risk business or to help with Inheritance Tax or estate planning by holding assets outwith your personal estate.  Trusts can also be set up to support charitable purposes by allowing grants to be made to people or bodies with a particular need.

Our fees to set up lifetime Trusts vary but usually start from:-

Setting up a Trust                                                                             £750 (plus VAT £150)

Setting up Trusts for a couple                                                        £950 (plus VAT £190)

Once a Trust has been set up we can also take on the administrative burdens on behalf of the Trustees such as record keeping for the Trust, secretarial support including arranging and documenting Trustees meetings, financial reporting, liaising with investment managers and stockbrokers, liaising with HMRC to ensure all tax compliance and reporting to OSCR (Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator) for charitable trusts.  As with estate administration, the work involved in trust administration can vary and is usually charged on a time-and-line/hourly charge basis.

 

Estate Agency

In Scotland many firms of solicitors including Stevenson & Marshall also provide property estate agency services. Estate Agency in simple terms is the marketing of your property for sale. It is not the legal work involved in the sale of your property this comes under the heading of conveyancing and there are separate fees and outlays for this process. The work that our estate agency department will undertake for clients who instruct us to market their property may include our staff consulting with the client, advising on value and marketing strategy/process, visiting and valuing the property, preparing a sale schedule including photographing the property , registering it with on online property portals including the ESPC, Rightmove and our own website, arranging a Home Report, dealing with enquiries, arranging/conducting viewings, negotiating with prospective buyers and processing offers received. Our fees charged may be based on a commission based on a percentage of the sale price of the property or a fixed fee agreed beforehand. For the sale of an urban property at a final sale price of £200,000, the commission may be 1% of the sale price i.e. £2,000 plus vat £400. Estate agency commission will, subject to one or two exceptions, only be payable, on conclusion of your sale and payment of the price. There will also in most cases be a marketing fee payable to Stevenson & Marshall which would normally be payable prior to the marketing of your property. The Marketing Fee covers the initial set up costs involved in the marketing of your property. A typical indication of our Marketing Fee would be £340 plus vat therefore in total £408. Additionally, we will also in most circumstances be registering your property online with the ESPC. There is a one-off charge payable to the ESPC for this which is £149. This is a one-off payment which normally requires to be paid to the ESPC after your sale completes. The level of this payment and when it requires to be paid is fixed by the ESPC. Additionally, under Scots Law you are unable to market your property without there being a home report in place. The cost of a Home Report varies according to the value of your property but based on a value of £200,000 the approximate price, which can vary between different firms of surveyors, is around £630.

 

 

 


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