File management

By Tolley
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The following Trusts and Inheritance Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • File management
  • Keeping track of documents and correspondence
  • Paper or electronic filing
  • Monitoring progress
  • Storing original documents
  • Deadlines
  • Completing the administration

Whilst administering an estate it is extremely important to be able to locate all documents and correspondence received, make sure deadlines are recorded and met, and to know what stage you are at all times. The beneficiaries should be kept informed and updated regularly.

Keeping track of documents and correspondence

The administration of an estate can generate a huge amount of documentation. Obviously, the amount of paperwork varies according to the complexity and range of assets, liabilities and beneficiaries. Nevertheless it is advisable to adopt a consistent outline structure for record keeping which can be applied to each estate.

Unless the estate is very simple indeed, it is not advisable to just file documents and correspondence in date order. You will need to refer to documents throughout the administration, and they will become increasingly difficult to find if the file is not organised in a segmented way. The aim is to keep all the documents on a particular asset or liability together, so that the ‘story’ for each asset etc. is quickly ascertained at any point, particularly when it comes to preparing the estate accounts.

See the Template – probate file index for a suggested file structure.

There are some advantages to a chronological file, and practitioners may be reluctant to abandon such a system if that is what they use with their other paper files. If so, it is recommended that both a chronological file and a subject segmented file is kept with duplicates of essential documents such as valuation letters, remittance advices, and HMRC correspondence.

Typically, a segmented file will include subfolders or sections for each asset and liability. Other sections can be designated for the official probate papers; the overall progress of the administration; estate accounts and tax liabilities. The template for the Probate File Index indicates the range of documents to be held in

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