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COVID-19 Being an executor during the lockdown

The Coronavirus pandemic is forcing everyone to live and work differently. While we attempt to comprehend the vast number of people passing away as a result of COVID19 and demonstrate our gratitude towards key workers, some thought is being given to how our lives will change post-lockdown.

Many commentators are pointing to a potential increase in demand on the property market following the easing of lockdown restrictions, although this may be tempered slightly by the enduring social distancing rules as these will have an impact on the various stages of property transactions. While those who own their own homes have most likely been using the lockdown to add a lick of paint and deal with the usual scuffs on the walls (as outlined in this video), there are many who are unable to do so.

One task which may face the executor of an estate is to acquire the necessary authority to market and sell the property. Doing so requires a grant of Confirmation, which must be obtained from the Sheriff court of the Sheriffdom in which the deceased died. Depending on the Sheriff court, as you will appreciate, there may be some delays in processing any application for Confirmation. Further, banks are operating at a slower pace of play and therefore there may be delays in receiving final balances held in bank accounts. Finally, if an estate requires an inheritance tax account to be submitted to HMRC, further delays can be expected.

The impact of any delays may be felt by those selling a property. In the event of any delay at the courts, HMRC or any asset holders, the Executors of an estate may not be able to take advantage of the surge in demand for residential property, which is expected once the lockdown restrictions have been lifted by the Scottish Government.

Other issues which may result include the impact of changes in the stock markets where the assets of the deceased are invested.  Executors may need financial advice on whether to hold or encash and our colleagues at Gilson Gray Financial Management are well placed to help here.

The message therefore is that Executors should act quickly and begin the early stages of administration of a deceased’s estate at the earliest possible convenience. In doing so, an Executor may find that they can take advantage of the predicted demand in the property market. There are an infinite number of unknowns at the moment and therefore we recommend acting as early as possible to make sure that any application for Confirmation is queued at the relevant Sheriff court.

Our Private Client and Property departments are on hand to talk you through the stages of applying for Confirmation and the sale of a property. We have also prepared a helpful note on the role of an Executor, which you can access here.

If we can be of any assistance please do not hesitate to contact email: dmurdie@gilsongray.co.uk

The information and opinions contained in this blog are for information only. They are not intended to constitute advice and should not be relied upon or considered as a replacement for advice. Before acting on any of the information contained in this blog, please seek specific advice from Gilson Gray.

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