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HMRC internal manual

Trusts, Settlements and Estates Manual

Legal background to trusts & estates: the three phases of an administrator's duties

The period of administration starts with the date of death, and finishes when the administrators have discharged all their duties. It has three phases.

Phase 1

The administrators

  • arrange the deceased’s funeral
  • get details of all assets and debts
  • complete any return needed for inheritance tax
  • get letters of administration, recognising their lawful ownership of the assets of the deceased.

Phase 2

They bring the assets together in their hands.

Phase 3


  • pay the debts of the deceased
  • find out what is left (ascertain the residue)
  • assent to the entitlement of a beneficiary, or
  • assent to the residue being held in accordance with the rules of intestacy.