Introduction to deceased estates

Produced by Tolley in association with Higgs & Sons
Introduction to deceased estates

The following Trusts and Inheritance Tax guidance note Produced by Tolley in association with Higgs & Sons provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Introduction to deceased estates
  • The administration process
  • The Will
  • The personal representatives
  • Beneficiaries
  • Where there is a Will
  • Where there is no Will
  • Registration of death
  • Disposal of body
  • Securing and protecting assets

The administration process

When a person dies, their personal representatives have a duty to administer their estate. This includes ascertaining the details of the assets and liabilities in the estate at the person’s date of death, including any liabilities to income tax or capital gains tax in respect of transactions occurring before death. They will then need to complete an inheritance tax account, pay any inheritance tax due, sign a statement of truth and apply for the grant of representation which is proof of the personal representatives’ legal authority to perform the role.

Once the grant is obtained the personal representatives have a duty to collect all of the assets, settle the liabilities of the estate (including income tax and capital gains tax charges which have arisen during the period of administration), agree the estate figures with HMRC for inheritance tax purposes and then distribute the remaining estate in accordance with either the terms of the Will or, where there is none, the rules of intestacy. It is worth noting now that if the liabilities of the estate exceed the assets then the estate is insolvent and great care should be taken in the administration of the estate. If the estate is solvent, the personal representatives have a duty to distribute the balance to the beneficiaries.

In light of this, duty it is essential that the personal representatives keep an accurate record of the relevant estate information which is usually done by preparing estate accounts. Please refer to the Stewardship of funds and Requirement for estate accounts guidance notes for more information.

Before the administration process can begin, it is important to:

  1. find out if there is a Will ― check with the deceased’s solicitor or bank and perhaps use a search provider as set out in more detail below

  2. identify the personal representatives

  3. identify the beneficiaries

The Will

At the outset it is extremely important that the original Will is obtained with any original codicils or other documents which

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