Thank you very much for your reply .
My mother did continue to live in the house without paying rent and the house has to be treated as a "gift with reservation of benefit" for the IHT return. The total value of the estate (including the sale value of the house) is well below the IHT threshold so no tax will be due.
Your advice in the paragraph "Regarding possession as administrator .." is helpful. One of my siblings will be applying for joint administration. I agree with your comments about objects which have sentimental value and we would wish to avoid unnecessary disputes. We will be happy to dispose of them to the beneficiaries who may want them but would also record the value of these disposals to ensure equality of settlement of monetary value. A problem will arise when an item is wanted by two beneficiaries. In this case, the estranged sibling demands that the item must be sold and the proceeds shared.
To avoid any misunderstanding, would I be correct understanding that the administrators are legally entitled to decide what action to take without the approval of the estranged sibling?
Your advice that " No one beneficiary is entitled to a specific object" is very clear. No application for a joint grant of administration has been made therefore the other sibling " only has a right to their share and not legal control of administration" is also helpful should we be unable to reach any amicable agreement.
When valuing her estate, I need to find the ‘market value’ (i.e. realistic selling price) of assets. I have been advised that I should use a professional valuer for land, buildings, household goods and personal belongings worth more than £500. (See https://www.gov.uk/valuing-estate-of-someone-who-died/assets). The house has been valued by two Estate Agents. Items of jewellery has been valued by a jeweller but do not exceed £500. I will estimate the value of other contents and possessions. The monetary value of the whole lot is minimal. The real value particular items are their emotional or sentimental value. I propose to estimate the value of contents and possessions based on any information I can find for similar items on sale locally (e.g. A reputable Charity used furniture shop).
Provided I keep records to show how goods have been valued, would I be legally correct in taking this course of action?
Am I correct in understanding that S25 of the Administration of Estates Act 1925 is the legal basis for my duty as personal representative, and S27 for the protection of persons acting on administration?
Is there anything else you recommend I consider?
We want to resolve this difficult issue without unnecessary dispute, but if we cannot, your clear advice gives me a legal "fall back position" which I can rely on. Thank you.