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HMRC internal manual

Capital Gains Manual

Death and Personal Representatives: Period of administration and ascertainment of residue: Personal representatives: sales: before residue is ascertained

Any chargeable gains or allowable losses arising from the sale of assets of the estate during the period from the date of death to the ascertainment of residue accrue to and are assessable on the personal representatives and not to any other person. The only exception to this rule is where the personal representatives have taken specific steps to vest those assets sold in legatees, see CG30900, before residue is ascertained and the assets are sold in the interval between vesting and residue being ascertained. In those circumstances the gains accrue to and are assessable on the legatees. If the personal representatives are involved in such a sale it can only be as bare trustees for the legatees.

Except for assets passing direct to other persons, such as interests in joint tenancies, the beneficial ownership of all the deceased’s assets vests in the personal representatives. For any particular asset the beneficial ownership remains with the personal representatives until the earliest of the following events.

  • They sell the asset.
  • They vest ownership of it in a legatee in advance of residue being ascertained.


  • Beneficial ownership vests in a legatee when residue is ascertained.

During this period the personal representatives have absolute control over the asset. If they need to sell assets in order to raise funds to pay liabilities they have absolute discretion in deciding what assets to sell. The legatees cannot direct them in any way. Therefore they are not bare trustees or nominees for the legatees. A legatee only holds a chose in action, see CG30760.