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Question arising out of this answer.

In the UK, one needs to value the money, property, and possessions of someone who died, before one can apply to represent the estate for official dealings.

Assume the decedent has one or more bank/financial services accounts, does not regularly forward balance statements to next-of-kin, and did not leave a recent paper statement in an easily discoverable location (e.g. the decedent received electronic statements), which seems likely to be common.

How does a next-of-kin access the bank records needed to value the estate?

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    You can't - guess – Dale M Nov 7 '15 at 4:46
  • It can be hard to tell if somebody is secretly wealthy, or mired in hidden debt. – WBT Nov 7 '15 at 14:30
  • I agree with DaleM it is mostly guesswork. Some wealth is a matter of public record, but much is not. A credit report, if available, can be a useful tool. Comparing estimated income to estimated expenses over time can be a tool. – ohwilleke Jul 1 at 19:09
  • FWIW, I agree with you that the UK system is nuts. In all jurisdictions in the U.S., you are appointed as executor first which gives you the authority to gather information and access assets, and then have to prepare an inheritance tax valuation afterwards. The UK system presumes the executor will have a practical ability to get information necessary to do this without formal authority to do so. I wonder if there is a way to be appointed on a temporary or provisional basis to give you the necessary authority to get information if needed, but I could find nothing that said so. – ohwilleke Jul 2 at 2:52
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When applying for a grant of probate, you are required to submit an estimate for the value of the deceased estate. This valuation is generally used by HMRC for tax purposes. I believe estates worth more than a certain amount are automatically flagged to HMRC.

Anyway, it is true that the existence bank accounts unknown to those applying for probate (or other property undisclosed to them, such as a hidden cottage in the woods) may make it difficult to do so, so a reasonably thorough attempt at valuing the deceased's assets should suffice.

It is important to note that such estimates are not conclusive proof of the value of the deceased's estate. To conclusively prove the value of an estate one may have to bring a part 8 claim in court, but this is likely only relevant in cases of contentious probate (where there is doubt as to who may inherit or benefit under a will).

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