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Just a mistake, or was it dishonest ?

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  • Just a mistake, or was it dishonest ?

    In 2009 an executor and his mother declared the estate of the woman’s deceased husband as £24.429.30p. When both signed the official HMRC IHT/205 Form which declared the estate. They failed to declare a property as a substantial material asset to probate, in spite of obviously being fully aware of it's existence, and also the relative facts concerning it's ownership.

    The facts were that the deceased had originally owned the property concerned outright. And that the mother had signed a solicitors receipt when accepting the original copies of the deceased final Will, and very importantly, the original document that the deceased and the mother had signed in 2007 when severing the joint tenancy of the property, so as to make the couple Tenants in Common on a 50/50 basis.

    The document was titled: Declaration of Severance. As a consequence of the revised tenancy agreement, 50% of the value of the property was retained by each spouse for sole dispositions in their respective Wills. It should be noted however, that there was never a change to the couples Wills after the Declaration.
    Contrary to the fact of the Declaration of Severance being in possession of the surviving spouse, and her also having signed it in 2007. The executor and his mother failed to declare the monetary value of the property to probate on three separate counts:

    a] They failed to declare the deceased's 50% share in the property as part of the total of his estate.

    b] They failed to declare that the mother had obtained her initial 50% share in the property from the deceased by means of a gift that had been made less than 7 years prior to the bereavement.

    c] They failed to declare that the property was passing by survivor-ship to the mother, as the spouse.

    As a consequence HMRC were totally unaware that a substantial material asset had indeed changed hands. And there would be no record of the property becoming part of the elderly mothers estate. Eighteen months later, the executor was forced to amend his incorrect valuation of the deceased's estate after legal proceeding in the High Court which exposed the existence of the property. Although the executor then declared the 50% share in the property as part of the deceased's estate. He again failed to inform probate that the initial share in the property was obtained by his mother by means of a gift. The estate therefore remains incorrectly declared to this day.

    Further considerations:
    At the time of the proceeding in the High Court. The most important document other than the deceased's Will [ the Declaration of Severance ] had mysteriously disappeared. And in spite of later claims by the executor and his solicitor that the documents was missing at the time of the 1st Probate Hearing and later found. The document was never shown to the court. The only proof that the Declaration of Severance ever existed, is a photographic copy which was taken by the deceased's nephew on the day of his uncle’s funeral.


    Would the facts as stated above be considered dishonest by the standards of an ordinary, reasonable individual, having the same knowledge as the accused ?

    [ Whether or not the accused viewed their actions as dishonest by their standards is irrelevant ]
    Last edited by chetbaker; 10th July 2019, 09:16:AM.
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