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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
Please accept my sympathies for the loss of your wife.
If your wife passed away owing a debt including a debt to HMRC then her estate is liable for the same. You are not personally liable and HMRCs claim would be limited to a) and assets that were held in her sole name at the date of her passing or b) her share of any joint assets held in her joint name with another (in practice likely you).
From what you say I presume that her estate was not insolvent as you refer to paying out assets in accordance with her wishes. This being the case liability for the debt comes out of the share attributed to her residuary beneficiary(ies).
Would I be correct to assume you were her primary residuary beneficiary? Were here any other residuary beneficiares? Residuary beneficiaries are the people that receive "everything else" once any legacies have been paid out.
So me being the major beneficiary means I have to pay this?
Were you the only residue beneficiary of her estate or were there others too?
I was the sole beneficiary. Any deviation from her will was by way of word of mouth between me and my wife.
Thanks. Unfortunateluy based on these circumstances then because the debt falls to be paid first out of her residue on the basis that you were the sole beneficiary of her residue and that her residue was worth more than the value of the debt then the debt would be due to be repaid from this which would make you liable based upon what you say I regret
If anyone other than you received a share of her residue then their share would also be liable to bear its share of the debt in proportion to the size of the share received.
If the Revenue have been charging interest on the debt you can ask the Revenue to waive the interest and any penalties in the circumstances given your wifes passing. HMRC has discretion to do so though may refuse.
It is unlikely they will waive the tax itelf that is demanded unless you can identify a mistake being made in their calculation - you can request a breakdown of how they have worked out the demand as your wifes executor (you are entitled to this information by virtue of s1 Administration of Estates Act).
Is there anything above I can clarify for you?
No thank you. I am due to receive a breakdown of how they reached this decision and I can always verify it via an accountant I know.
You may find they have made a mistake which may alter the amount due. In addition you could consider asking them to waive any penalties or interest they may have applied in the circumstances.I hope you are successful in at least reducing the figure down a little.
If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do not hesitate to revert to me
Will do and many thanks. Your feedback rating is 'excellent' as couldn't fault you!