My husband had occasion to seek advice from HM Revenue and Customs this morning. He phoned the help desk and explained the problem, viz, his late mother’s estate (she died in March this year) was being handled by his brother who died suddenly on Saturday. Probate had been granted but administration of the estate had not been completed. Barry’s sister-in-law told Barry she had been informed she would have to take over probate.
The help desk told Barry that was nonsense and he, as next of kin, would be responsible and he should apply for a second grant of probate. Barry then checked with Winchester, the office that granted probate, and was told that his sister-in-law would definitely be responsible for probate, along with her deceased husband’s estate.
Barry checked with the help desk again and the man he spoke to consulted three of his senior colleagues who insisted that their advice was right. A further phone call to Winchester resulted in three managers confirming that the advice they were giving was accurate. Back to the help desk who maintained their position but advised him to get legal advice (!!) but also said that as Winchester was responsible for granting probate he’d better accept their advice as they would be dealing with it.
Everyone Barry spoke to was helpful and polite but why was there so much disagreement between them? Finally, Barry phoned the principal Registry in London and The Winchester office’s advice was confirmed as correct.
Fortunately, Barry and his sister-in-law get on well together and there is no conflict of interest or argument about the disposal of his late mother’s estate.
Help desks should help, not confuse. There needs to be clarification in training so that all parties are giving the same advice.