Locating a Deceased Person's Hidden Assets during Probate

15 January 2018

When dealing with the Estate of a deceased person, it’s essential to locate and value everything that the person owned. Sometimes assets can be hard to find. We explain what Hidden Assets are and how to locate these.

What are Hidden Assets?

Sometimes, where a person who has died was quite secretive or had a poor memory the person with the job of dealing with their assets (known as the Executor or Administrator) may find it difficult to locate all of their assets. Any assets which are not easy to locate are often referred to as Hidden Assets.

Hidden Assets may include private loans made to somebody else, old insurance or investment policies, a financial interest in a property that is legally owned by someone else, and even shareholdings in companies.

Why Do I Need to Locate Hidden Assets?

If you find yourself as the Executor or Administrator of someone’s Estate, and you think that there may be some hidden assets, you will need to locate these. You need to find out what the value of all the person’s assets was at the date of their death. This is because when you apply for Probate you need to report on the value of the assets and debts of the deceased person on their date of death.

This is particularly important information to have for the Inheritance Tax forms, which will need to be submitted at the same time that Probate is applied for. If the wrong figure is reported to HM Revenue & Customs, and Inheritance Tax needs to be paid on the Estate, you could find that the amount of Inheritance Tax due goes up because of interest and penalty payments.

How Do You Locate Hidden Assets?

If you are the Executor or Administrator of an Estate, and you think that there may be some assets that the deceased person hasn’t got a good record of, you have several options. You can:

  1. Thoroughly search the deceased person’s paperwork to look for references to things that they owned, and also money or items that they owed to others. If they were making a mortgage payment against a property that they weren’t living in when they died, they may still own this. Likewise, if they were receiving regular payments from someone this may be because they were entitled to an income from an asset somewhere.

  2. Pay for a professional search to try and locate lost or forgotten assets. Whenever Co-op Legal Services administer an Estate for an Executor or Administrator, we will always carry out one of these searches. Searches for lost or unclaimed assets can sometimes uncover something worth many thousands of pounds. These assets could include old life policies, Premium Bonds, dormant bank accounts or shares with lost certificates.

  3. Think about other countries that the deceased has had connections with. Might they own property, or have a bank account, in a country that they visited for several months at a time? Did they work overseas? Did they have involvement in a private company which they may have owned a share of? 

How Co-op Legal Services Can Help

If you have lost a loved one, and you need help with the Probate process, call our Probate Advisory team for free initial advice and guidance. We can arrange for one of our Probate Consultants to meet you over video or on the phone, to discuss the Estate of your loved one in more detail, and to provide you with a fixed fee Probate quote for dealing with Probate from start to finish. 

We always complete a search to locate any Hidden Assets, and can arrange for any work needed to be completed as part of our Probate Complete Service which includes taking full responsibility for obtaining the Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (not VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs*

*We can also pay all the costs of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral, providing the Estate owns sufficient assets which can be sold in due course to repay our costs.

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