You have registered the death, organised the funeral and now that you have identified all of the assets your loved one had (and established whether or not they have a Will), you are ready to progress with the administration of the estate. This blog focuses on the procedure where the value of the estate is over £36,000.
You need to now progress with obtaining Confirmation (known as Probate in England & Wales). As detailed in our earlier Blog this is the legal document that gives the Executor authority to ingather and distribute the deceased person’s estate. At the time of issue of this blog the Confirmation process still requires a physical application to the Court … this may change in the weeks to come with the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service having recently confirmed they are reviewing their processes and hope to progress commissary work (estate administration) through remote working … watch this space!
You should contact your nominated solicitor providing the death certificate, the original will (if not already held by the solicitor), information on the title to any property (or copy title deeds if available) and an indication of all assets held in the deceased’s sole name or jointly with any other person. You should also provide the solicitor with details of any gifts the deceased made in the 7 years prior to their death.
This information should be provided as soon as possible after arranging the funeral. Despite lockdown measures, your solicitor should be able to commence the process where they are working from home and if possible, a virtual meeting by video call or telephone can be arranged. It is of particular importance to gather this information and provide it to the solicitor assisting you in administering the estate particularly if the estate is likely to be liable to Inheritance Tax (Kirsty, do we have another blog on IHT we could link to here?). Various forms require to be lodged with HMRC and any tax due paid within 6 months of the date of death, to avoid interest and penalties. Remember, as Executor you are taking on personal liability so it is important to receive the correct advice and guidance and pay tax timeously to avoid any penalties.
HMRC has issued an update following government restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, introducing new ways of working. Inheritance Tax must now be made by one of the following methods to a specified HM Revenue & Customs account (cheques will not be accepted at this time):
- Faster payment (online or telephone banking),
- CHAPS, or
Bear in mind that some of these methods may incur bank charges.
The Inheritance Tax forms usually require to be signed by the Executor(s). Due to current government restrictions, a new temporary process has been agreed. HMRC will accept a printed signature on the forms in the following circumstances:
- There is a professional agent acting and both:
- The names and personal details of the Executor(s) are shown on the declaration page, and
- The account includes a clear and unambiguous statement from the agent to confirm that the Executor has seen the account and has agreed to be bound by the declaration.
Where there is a property (or properties) to be sold, please bear in mind that you should only commence the process of marketing for sale on the advice of the solicitor handling the estate administration. The Executor requires to have obtained Confirmation before being in a position to conclude missives for the sale. Remember, the Courts will have a backlog of Confirmation applications when they commence remote working on commissary cases and the process of obtaining Confirmation from the Court is likely to take longer than usual — unfortunately, we have no indication of the timescales at present.
Should you have any further questions or require further guidance in any aspect of managing the estate of a loved one our Private Client Team have extensive experience in assisting clients in the estate administration process. During lockdown we are continuing to work remotely and securely from home. Our preferred method of communication at this time is email. Should you prefer to speak to a member of the team, please call 0141 221 5562 or 0131 220 7660.