I am currently instructed by the Executors of the Estate of W. W’s husband has been charged with the murder of W and is currently in prison on remand awaiting trial. W’s husband is one of the Executors but has accepted through his solicitor that we will apply for Probate with power reserved. I am instructed by the remaining executors. I understand that we will not be able to distribute the estate until we have a verdict from the trial.
In the meantime though we need to obtain a Grant of Probate to allow us to pay liabilities of the estate and to safeguard the assets until we know who the beneficiaries will be. We have also been informed by another solicitor that they hold information we need to know to administer the estate but are not willing to release the information until we have a Grant.
W’s estate is in excess of £650,000 so if spouse is not the main beneficiary then the estate will be taxable.
How would you deal with this when applying for the Grant of Probate? I am minded to submit the Inheritance tax return with a claim for spouse exemption and a detailed explanation of the circumstances. In my view the husband is currently the main beneficiary as he is ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and the forfeiture rule only applies after a guilty verdict.
Upon a guilty verdict we would then have to go back to the Revenue and let them know of the change of circumstances and pay any tax due.
Is this the correct way to deal with this? Or would it be better to pay the potential tax due and claim it back in the event he is not convicted?
Would be very grateful for anyone’s experience in this area as it is a new one to me.
Faye Harlow Smith