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HMRC internal manual

Information Disclosure Guide

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Confidentiality when dealing with the customer: disclosure to agents, representatives and third parties: protecting deceased customers: general

Protecting the confidentiality of deceased customers: general

This section provides advice on the confidentiality issues you must take into account when dealing with a deceased person’s affairs. Please always remember the need to treat the deceased personal representative, family members and next of kin with sensitivity.

You should also be aware that the procedures HMRC follow are similar to those of banks, insurance companies etc, so the personal representative should be familiar with their responsibilities.

Period of administration of the estate

When someone dies, whether they have left a will or not, their estate enters a period of administration. During the period of administration the ‘personal representative’ is responsible for finalising the affairs of the estate. You may only disclose confidential information about the affairs of the deceased to a personal representative (or someone authorised by them), and only then to the extent necessary to enable the tax and National Insurance affairs of the deceased to be settled. In this guidance the term ‘personal representative’ is used to encompass both executors and administrators.

Dealing with the next of kin

It is not uncommon for people to confuse the personal representative with the next of kin. The deceased’s next of kin does not have any rights to information held by HMRC. However it is quite possible that the next of kin is also acting as the appointed personal representative. You therefore may need to make further enquires when dealing with requests from individuals who simply refer to themselves as next of kin to the deceased.

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Dealing with the deceased’s (former) agent

Any agent’s authorisation that was signed by the deceased before they died ceases to be valid upon the date of death. This means no information may be given to a formally appointed agent unless and except where agreed by the personal representative. For more information about dealing with requests from agents please see IDG30410.

Dealing with the deceased’s personal representative

As a general rule, HMRC does not ask customers to send HMRC documentary evidence such as a copy of the will or letters of probate. It can however be useful to check whether we hold these documents because they will show whether the person you are dealing with can be treated as the personal representative.

You should not however expect all customers to be able to supply proof that they have been appointed as personal representative as in many cases the deceased will not have left a will (that is, they will have died intestate). Furthermore as probate may not have been settled at the point at which the personal representative contacts HMRC, it is possible that letters of probate have not been validated or even not held.

HMRC will accept details of the personal representative from:-

  • Tell Us Once notification.
  • A signed letter from the personal representative.
  • Receipt of an SA return.
  • Telephone call to Customer Contact Directorate (CCD).
  • Sight of grant of probate/letters of administration.
  • P1000.

If we have received the personal representative from either of the above then HMRC systems (NPS and CESA) will be updated with this information.

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Repayments to the deceased’s estate

You will need to establish if the personal representative(s) details are held on either NPS or CESA capacitor screens and if this is the same person

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Dealing with a Senior Coroner

Please see guidance at IDG40561.

Further guidance

Details of NICO & EO Teams can be found at IDG80100. For further guidance and assistance please contact your Data Guardian.