Acting as Personal Representative
Once you have gained Grant of Probate or have been awarded Grant of Administration of Letters you will be able to assume the duties of Personal Representative, should you have been either elected in the deceased will as such, or chosen by the Probate Office as a worthy candidate. This can be a daunting time, with many important roles conferred upon the Personal Representative to be managed as well as possible along with the grief that goes with losing someone close to you. In this event the Probate Office will offer support and guidance, which can also be sought from the Citizens Advice Bureau or a Lawyer.
The Role of Personal Representative
The Personal Representative (otherwise known as an ‘Executor’ or ‘Administrator’) is responsible chiefly for dispensing the wishes of the deceased as outlined in their will and for ensuring that the correct amount of Inheritance Tax is paid. In the former case this may involve interpreting the will to some extent and negotiating amongst the benefactors as well as dealing with any contesting of the will. In the latter case this will involve valuing the Estate of the deceased, which effectively means assessing the worth of every possession and asset they own from the smallest to the biggest.
The first thing to do will be to apply for Grant of Representation (either ‘Probate’ or ‘Administration of Letters’ – see related article) at the Probate Office. Next you must find information on assets, lifetime gifts (so that Inheritance Tax may either be paid on them or exempted from them depending on what type of gist they were and when they were made).
To find a deceased’s assets will take some work. Try first looking through their paperwork first, before contacting their solicitor, their bank and any business partners they have had in the past. Once this is done a total valuation of assets can be conducted. If in doubt gain a valuation of specific items where possible: houses, land, cars, jewelery, antiques and artworks can all be tricky to value and you will be penalised if you do not declare the true worth of the estate for tax purposes.
From the end of the first month in which the deceased person has died, the Personal Representative has twelve months to finish valuing the Estate. In exceptional circumstances, where the Personal Representative named in the will has been hard to find, a three month extension may be gained on top of the usual twelve month period.
When Inheritance Tax has been calculated the Personal Representative is liable to ensure that the tax is paid by instalments on time. This will entail paying using money from the Estate, although the Estate cannot be accesses until the first instalment is paid. If there are problems paying the Representative must contact the Tax Office and explain their situation.
The Personal Representative is responsible for keeping a record of the valuation of the estate and of all forms relevant to the will and the Inheritance Tax liability, and may be called on to present these forms at a later date.