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HMRC internal manual

Trusts, Settlements and Estates Manual

Legal background to trusts and estates: executors give assent

When personal representatives satisfy themselves that

  • a beneficiary is entitled to a legacy
  • the estate has sufficient funds to meet it
  • the beneficiary is able to give a valid receipt

they assent to a legacy. This indicates they have found no reason to prevent the transfer of the legacy to the beneficiary. It establishes the beneficiary’s title. It also confirms the debt owed to the beneficiary. The beneficiary has become the owner, even if not immediately taking possession of it.

Real property

If the legacy is real property, personal representatives must give an assent in writing. The assent then acts as a conveyance. Written assent is not essential if the legacy is an equitable interest in land. However it is better if all assents are written. This establishes the date the beneficiary became the legal and beneficial owner of the real property.


The term assent is not a feature of Scots law, so in administering Scottish estates personal representatives will take other steps necessary to transfer legacies to the beneficiaries.