Dealing with government organisations after a loved one dies can be a challenge, even for the experts. Richard Barlow explains why accurate financial records are so vital…
When we are instructed to handle a deceased estate, we are often asked to supply historical information to public bodies about the person’s financial affairs. This can, understandably, prove quite difficult.
If you are acting as an attorney or deputy for a loved one, it is essential you keep proof of all the financial dealings you oversee. Likewise, if you are the recipient of means-tested benefits or make regular gifts to family or friends, keep a note of all relevant information – you never know when it might be needed. The following scenarios are not unusual:
• If a person appointed by the Court of Protection (a deputy) is managing the financial affairs of a relative or friend who has lost mental capacity, the court can require annual accounts to be submitted, detailing every payment made and sums received on behalf of the person concerned.
• After a person has died, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) needs to make sure they received the correct level of benefits. We are asked to provide details of the assets held at the date of death and if the DWP has reason to believe the benefits were calculated incorrectly, we can be asked to produce bank statements and valuations of assets going back sometimes more than 15 years.
• Inheritance tax may be due on any gifts made in the seven years prior to a person’s death. They have to be declared to the Inland Revenue, who will require full details, for example, the name of the recipient and exact date of the gift. It is important to note there is an inheritance tax exemption that can be applied when regular lifetime gifts have been made out of income alone. However, to claim this successfully, comprehensive and specific information is required about the deceased’s income and expenditure during the relevant period.
These are just a few examples of why it is so important to retain information relating to your estate and that of anyone you look after. Failure to do so, can result in financial penalties or at the very least, a complicated and drawn out process whilst queries are raised and tax exemptions applied.
We handle these types of cases all the time and can provide detailed advice relating to your circumstance if required. To find out more about administering an estate, why not book a free 30-minute consultation with one of our probate specialists? Call us on 0114 218 4000, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or complete this form.