Following on from yesterdays blog we will now look at the next part of administrating the estate-
Dying matters – Stage 2 – Gathering in information about the estate
Once the funeral has been organised and the Will (if any) located, the executors of the Will or those who are proposing to act as administrators if there is no Will need to make detailed enquiries about the assets and liabilities of the deceased. Further, as they will need to report any gifts made by the deceased in the seven years prior to death to HMRC for inheritance tax purposes this extends to looking for evidence of gifts.
Practically speaking the steps that would need to be take include the following:
- Searching through the paperwork of the deceased carefully for details of assets. For example, this would involve checking for bank statements, account passbooks, share certificates, life insurance policies and other similar documents
- Writing to banks, building societies, stock brokers, insurance companies and the like to inform them of the death and to obtain valuations of the assets as at the date the deceased died. This information is needed for the inheritance tax forms which need to be completed in due course.
- Arranging for any houses, land, business or personal chattels (including cars) of the deceased to be valued. Again, these are required to help calculate any inheritance tax which is due.
- Checking for evidence of liabilities of the deceased. This will involve looking for bills or invoices and making sure that these have been discharged. Also, bank statements should be checked carefully for evidence of anything which could potentially be a liability, for example, unexplained cheques, standing orders or direct debits and which calls for further enquiry.
- Checking for evidence of gifts. For example, looking at bank statements for evidence of cheque or cash payments. It is also wise to contact close family and friends and to ask them to provide details of any gifts which they are aware of the deceased having made so that these can be reported to HMRC if necessary.
It is important that adequate time and attention goes into this stage. Not only will it make the administration of the estate easier later on but also it reduces the risk of penalties being levied by HMRC. They can levy penalties even when no inheritance tax is due if they are of the view that a return hasn’t been completed with adequate care and attention. There will be more on inheritance tax accounts in tomorrow’s blog.