Without a documented Will or list of assets it becomes difficult to know the value of the estate

There are billions of pounds worth of unclaimed assets in the United Kingdom. Without a properly documented will or current list of assets it can become difficult for solicitors and administrators to know the value of the estate and therefore the figures to notify the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for Inheritance tax (IHT) and what is due to their clients or beneficiaries.

It is imperative that a detailed search is conducted so the correct value of the estate is given to the HMRC. The regime states that executors and administering solicitors can face penalties if they are found to have been negligent within their estate administration. For example, if the executors have not submitted a full account of all assets of the estate, they can be liable for penalties of up to 30 per cent of the tax due on any new assets identified after the IHT return has been submitted.

In over 31% of cases assets of value are discovered and we have located over £1,500,000 worth of assets with some amounting to over £100,000, such as the case of Ronald Taylor*. When a large bank referred the case of Mr Taylor, one of their recently deceased account holders, to the Government Legal Department the only known asset was the account with that bank valued at £7,000. As an experienced team of genealogists and international probate researchers, we firstly located the beneficiary to the intestate estate. A search for additional assets belonging to Mr Taylor was conducted and an account containing over £115,000 with a different financial institution was uncovered. This shows it is vitally important that asset searches for unknown assets are carried out.

By using probate research firm, which is regulated by the Association of Probate Researchers (APR) you may ensure that best practice has been followed to maximise the value of the estate by identifying previously unknown assets and in turn the amount for distribution to the heirs. In the case of Frank Davies* an asset search was conducted which identified a bank account holding over £20,000 and National Savings and Investments savings certificates worth over £30,000. As part of the estate administration Fraser and Fraser arranged postal redirection which highlighted an insurance policy and a utility bill credit which could be claimed by the estate. Through the redirected post a current investment account valued at £103,000 was identified which could be added to the estate.

Once assets have been identified we can assist with managing the assets through a range of services. For example we can check on your behalf whether a shareholding still exists and provide a probate valuation of shares to ensure you can complete the necessary tax forms when dealing with Inheritance Tax. In the case of Thomas Jones* amongst the assets discovered was a portfolio of shareholdings including Astra Zeneca, ITV and Compass Group. A probate valuation of the holdings showed the shares to be worth over £20,000 at the date of death.

Fraser and Fraser can also assist with the transfer and sale of North American securities for live and deceased shareholders. The company often come across UK residents holding US shares, for example when Cadbury was sold to Kraft and became US listed stock, which need to be transferred and sold to complete the administration of the estate. In order to sell or transfer North American securities we can arrange Medallion Signature Guarantees in relation to stocks and shares paperwork. Fraser and Fraser can assist in arranging the required bank signature guarantee to effect the transfer and subsequent sale of the holding in one streamlined and efficient process. With a broad range of experience in dealing with a variety of holdings and an understanding that each case is different, Fraser and Fraser offer a service tailored to your needs.

Locating missing beneficiaries is at the heart of our business, but alongside this we can conduct Asset and Will searches, as well as provide Missing Will and Missing Beneficiary Insurance to cover all eventualities. With over 90 years of experience, our expertise and access to information means there is nobody better placed to undertake your research in such a timely and cost-effective manner. When it comes to administering an estate and taking care of your clients’ legacies, we understand that each case is unique and can provide a bespoke service.

For more information please contact legal@fraserandfraser.co.uk or call 0207 832 1430.

* For the purpose of privacy the names in the article have been changed.



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