Transferable nil rate band - first death in March 1982

Hi, I am hoping that someone on the forum has come across a similar problem and will be able to help.

I am dealing with an estate where the husband has died - 03/02/2017. He was divorced at the date of his death but was predeceased by a previous wife who died on 09/03/1982.

The family have done a full search of the husband’s papers and have found wills of various family members but not his previous wife. The deceased had two children who were 10 and 14 at the date of their mother’s death so would not have any clue as to whether she left a will.

I have done a search of the probate register and the deceased spouse does not show.

The family seem to think that the spouse probably died intestate and had probably had very little in the way of her own assets.

There would be IHT to pay on the husbands estate if the transferable nil rate band is not claimed so the executors are obviously keen to make a claim.

Has anyone come across this situation before and / or know what HMRC stance is and whether they would be willing to accept the claim. The only documents we have are the marriage certificate, at the moment.

Readers thoughts would be appreciated.

Leanne Wootton
Morris Owen Chartered Accountants

I have occasionally made a claim for a transferable nil rate band in an estate where there was not much information about the estate of the predeceased spouse and where, as as in your estate, it appeared that the predeceased spouse almost certainly had very little estate and probably died intestate. However, in those estates I have always submitted at a minimum a death certificate of the predeceased spouse to prove that he/she has died. It is helpful that you have a marriage certificate.

Generally I have found that HMRC are fully aware of the fact that, prior to the introduction of the transferable nil rate band, papers in the estate of the first spouse to die would not have been kept indefinitely and they realise that information simply is not available, especially when the death was many years ago. When the predeceased spouse’s estate was large, it has been possible to obtain a copy of the Grant, and Will if there was one but in my experience HMRC have allowed the claim in smaller estates where no information was available, other than a death certificate, and where the assumption was that the predeceased spouse had few, if any, assets.

Cliona O’Tuama