Liability for an executor
My wife is the executor in the estate of her late brother. She is an elderly lady with virtually zero knowledge of legal, financial or tax matters. From the outset she appointed a large firm of solicitors to deal with the matter which will soon be concluded.. Nevertheless the solicitors have asked that she signs various pre-completed forms in particular HMRC documents including a tax return for the deceased. Obviously she will rely on the solicitor’s skill that these documents have been completed correctly for her signature. Given that she is the personal representative she is personally liable for any mistakes or underpayment of tax and to this end we believe the solicitors will withhold some funds when making an interim payment to the beneficiaries. I read somewhere that it’s advisable that distribution should be held for six months once the estate is finalised to allow for possible future claims. (Now possibly longer given that HMRC are taking ages to scrutinise tax returns due to three lockdowns.) Thoughts ?
I appreciate that the solicitors will have PI insurance but that still leaves the executor liable.
Mods: I tried to edit my above post but a message came up saying "Sorry, something is wrong with your data."
I wanted to add:
Or am I a cynic or being over cautious ?
you are being one or the other. Your wife should ask the solicitor to explain the statutory notices. And read this: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/wills-and-probate/content/103403
Thanks for that. We have placed the appropriate notices at the outset but how does that absolve the executor if say months or years down the line HMRC discover that the deceased had been in receipt of undeclared income? HMRC can chase unpaid tax 6 years or possibly longer so would that fall on the executor albeit she had no knowledge of the deceased income?
If there is the slightest reason for suspicion, she takes much greater care.