The letter from our solicitor explained that HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) have finally replied to their letter (replying to the query about the value of Dave's estate - given that no professional valuer would put a value on it at his death beyond saying it was 'nominal', or 'valueless'; and then a year or so later various tabloid reports were claiming among other nonsense that it was worth 'millions') sent in October. I have been copied in, as has Chris Pearson, Dave’s son and the third member of the Trust after Margaret Mytton and myself.
The messages in the letters are mixed – nobody is suggesting that anything has been done wrongly or misleadingly, but that’s almost where the good news ends. HMRC seem to have gone over the whole of the probate claim that Chris made and have even questioned the value of the two houses Dave owned (his house, and the studio).
The questions about the paintings, the artwork, are far more complex, and don’t seem to mention or place any value on the fact that we did try very hard to get professional valuations. HMRC want a ‘specialist unit’ to value the work, and I’ve been asked if I have a detailed catalogue of all the work that is unsold! The solicitor assumes this is going to be difficult. Dead right there! Elsewhere though it again mentions that the important value is ‘’at the time of death’ so everything remains ambivalent because the current value is, naturally, considerably more – after all the work the Trust has been doing (i.e. read this blog). So why value now when it isn’t the relevant figure?
Chris and I are seeking a meeting with our solicitors as soon as possible. This will be primarily about the Estate so we’re going as Executors. Chris is desperate to get this sorted as quickly as possible so we shouldn’t hold anything up at our end. However I think it’s in the nature of HMRC to move at tortoise-like speed, so I can picture it dragging on for ages.
I still feel optimistic in the long run, but dread a long drawn-out period of suspense about all of these issues.