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HMRC internal manual

International Manual

Double Taxation applications and claims: Applicants/claimants: Estates and deceased persons: Definitions

What Personal Representatives are
What a Beneficiary is
What the Period of Administration is
What the Residue is
What the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration are

What Personal Representatives are

Somebody has to take responsibility for settling the affairs of a deceased person. That person is the deceased’s personal representative.

In the law of England, Wales and Northern Ireland there are two types of personal representative.

  • Executor - an executor is appointed under the terms of a will
  • Administrator - an administrator is appointed by the court where the deceased person died intestate (did not leave a will) or where the executors appointed by the will did not take office.

In Scottish law all personal representatives are called executors.

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What a Beneficiary is

A beneficiary is a person who receives a deceased person’s property, either under the will of the deceased or under laws of succession.

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What the Period of Administration is

The period during which the personal representatives are settling the estate is called the ‘period of administration’ or ‘administration period’. It starts on the death of the deceased person and ends when the residue of the estate has been ascertained.

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What the Residue is

The ‘residue’ is the amount available for distribution to the beneficiary(ies) after the personal representatives have dealt with all debts, liabilities and specific legacies.

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What the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration are

A ‘Grant of Probate’ is the document giving legal authority to executors to act for the estate of the deceased. For administrators the equivalent document is a ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’. Executors and administrators can act for an estate before they have obtained these; however, they are necessary for any action requiring proof of title, such as selling or transferring securities, withdrawing money from the deceased’s bank account, or making claims to HMRC. Executors and administrators outside the UK may need to obtain legal authority in the UK to deal with the UK assets of the deceased.

Information about estates is published in the Trusts, Settlements and Estates Manual (TSEM1000). INTM guidance is intended specifically to enable you to deal with claims by non-residents under Double Taxation treaties, and certain domestic legislation applying to non-residents, where an estate is involved.

Claims involving estates can throw up difficult technical and legal problems and it is not possible to deal exhaustively with the subject within this guidance. The aim of these paragraphs is to enable you to deal with straightforward cases, and recognise situations where further guidance is needed.