When someone dies, the personal representative is the person who administers the deceased person's estate. If they are named in the will they called the executor. If there is no will, or they are not named in the will, they are known as the administrator.
We refer to both executors and administrators as personal representatives.
If you are named as the executor under a will, you will take out a grant of probate. If you are an administrator you will take out a grant of letters of administration or letters of administration with will annexed.
If someone appoints you as a personal representative, you will need, amongst other things, to find and value the deceased's assets, provide information to Inheritance Tax, and pay any inheritance tax which may be due. You will also need to apply for a grant of representation.
Make a thorough search of all the deceased's papers about their financial affairs. Make a rough list of their assets, investments, their other financial interests and the debts they owed when they died.
If the deceased had to fill in Self Assessment tax returns, they may have kept records to fill in those forms and these may help. Bank statements and building society passbooks may help you to discover whether any gifts were made. Remember that although the income from certain assets such as PEPs, TESSAs and ISAs is not liable to income tax, both the capital and the income are liable to inheritance tax and must be included.
You may also find it useful to ask others what they knew of the deceased's affairs. People who might be able to help are
You will need to make quite detailed enquiries so that you can find out about everything that makes up the deceased's estate. It is very important that you provide full and accurate information because you may make yourself liable to a financial penalty if you provide information incorrectly due to your negligence or fraud.
When you have completed your rough list of assets etc, you will need to find out the value of each of the assets concerned. It is important that you value the assets correctly, because you may make yourself liable to a financial penalty if you are negligent in arriving at the value. Find out more on valuing assets.
If two or more people own an asset, it is known as a 'joint asset'. Normally those people will hold the asset in joint names, although sometimes someone else (e.g. a trustee) may hold it in their name for two or more people who share ownership of the asset. The way they own the assets will affect how we will deal with the assets on the death of one of the joint owners. For more information about joint assets please visit the relevant page of the Customer Guide.
It is the personal responsibility of the personal representative to provide the account of the estate. If the estate qualifies as an excepted estate, you will need to complete a form IHT205 if the deceased died in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
To find out if the estate you're dealing with is an excepted estate, follow the link below.
If the estate is not an excepted estate, you will need to deliver an account of the estate of the deceased on form IHT400. In Scotland, where you apply for confirmation, our requirements differ slightly and an inventory form C1 is required in addition to the IHT400.
However, throughout the United Kingdom, if any tax is payable, you must deliver an account to us and pay the tax for which you are responsible before you can get a grant of representation or confirmation. The only exception is where you can pay tax by instalments.
If you are the personal representative of an estate which is not an excepted estate, you should send in an account within twelve months after the end of the month in which the death occurred. So, if Jane died on 15 July 2005 the account should be delivered by 31 July 2006.
The same time limit also applies to trustees who need to deliver an account of settled property and anyone who is liable for the tax on a gift.
If you send in the account late there may be a penalty to pay, unless you have a reasonable excuse.
The only exception to the twelve month time limit is where, for some reason, the personal representatives of an estate do not start to act as personal representatives for some time after the death. They have three months from the time they started to act as personal representatives to deliver the account, if that date would be outside the original twelve month time limit.
David died on 13 December 2004. Normally, an account should be delivered by 31 December 2005.
Alice was named in the will as the executrix of the estate, but she had moved abroad and lost contact with the family. A solicitor finally managed to contact her on 4 November 2005 and she agreed to act as the executrix.
Alice then has until 4 February 2006 to deliver the account.
If an IHT charge arises due to the transfer or sale of woodlands which benefit from woodlands relief or the sale or transfer of conditionally exempt property, the time limit for delivery of an account is six months from the end of the month in which the transfer occurred.
The personal representatives are liable for inheritance tax on
They must also tell the trustees of any trust the deceased had an interest in, that they are liable for the inheritance tax on the assets in that trust.
There are slightly different processes to follow depending on whether you are applying for the grant in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
In England and Wales you apply to the Probate Service (Opens new window).
In Northern Ireland you should contact the Probate and Matrimonial Office at
Royal Courts of Justice
PO Box 410
Belfast BT1 3JF
028 9072 4678
The Probate Office will send you a booklet, 'Dealing with a deceased's person's estate' that will tell you what to do.
If you find that the details you have supplied are wrong or incomplete you must tell us immediately.
If you applied for an excepted estate grant and after you have got the grant, you find some more assets, or you discover the value of an asset has changed, making the estate over the threshold for Inheritance Tax, you will need to complete an IHT400 account. Get form IHT400.
You must send form IHT 400 to us within six months of finding out about the change to the estate. If you are late in sending the form to us, you may make yourself liable to financial penalties.
You can work out the tax that is payable by deducting the IHT threshold from revised value of the estate and taking 40 per cent of that amount. You might need to add some interest to the tax that is due. Interest runs from six months after the end of the month in which the death occurred. Find out more about the interest payable.
It is important that you provide a full and correct account (and an additional account, if necessary), because you can incur penalties if you
You can find more information on penalties in Tell me about inheritance tax and penalties.
If you obtain a grant of representation or confirmation too quickly, without making proper enquiries to establish the extent and value of the estate, you may become liable for a penalty for submission of an incorrect account. There are, however, some exceptional occasions when you may have a genuine need to obtain a grant of representation urgently, before you have had the opportunity to make all the enquiries normally required. If you think you need to obtain a grant of representation quickly, we are happy to discuss the matter with you. If you would like help you should write to us at our Nottingham address outlining the circumstances or fax us the details on 0115 974 3045. Please head your letter or fax, 'Urgent Grant Request'.