Daily Mail

I AM at my wits’ end with wealth manager St James’s Place. I am the executor of my friend’s estate and he held investment­s with the firm. There is a substantia­l inheritanc­e tax bill of £800,000 to pay on his estate from various properties and shares. I c

- A. P., Essex.

Dear sally

I can only imagine the sinking feeling you had when you found out that more than £213,000 had disappeare­d into the ether. The payment reference gaffe is now holding up probate on your friend’s estate, because at least some of the inheritanc­e tax bill must be paid before probate is granted.

It is therefore also stalling the sale of your friend’s properties. This is causing you significan­t worry that interest will soon be applied to the tax bill if it is not credited in time.

When someone dies and they owe inheritanc­e tax — which typically applies at 40 pc on an individual’s estate worth more than £325,000 — interest is charged from the first day of the seventh month after death.

This means that from May 1, if the tax bill remains unpaid, an interest charge of 7.75 pc will kick in. On an £800,000 bill, the charge could be substantia­l.

On March 14, I asked SJP to investigat­e as a matter of urgency, which it agreed to do. With some additional prodding along the way, it finally came back on March 28 with an explanatio­n of events.

It confirmed that the £213,197 payment had been made to HMRc on January 4 but that it had not included the correct reference number and, although the money had been sent, HMRc had been unable to locate the funds.

To deal with your concerns over the looming deadline, it made a second payment for the same sum on March 18, four days after I contacted the firm. It said it was now pursuing HMRc for a repayment of the original sum.

a spokesman says: ‘We apologise to a. P. for any unnecessar­y distress and inconvenie­nce at an already difficult time. We recognise that we should have arranged this sooner, once the error was identified.

‘Given the circumstan­ces, we have offered £500 for the distress and inconvenie­nce caused. If any further costs are incurred as a direct result of our error, we have offered to cover those costs also.’

It may have let you down at the start, but well done to SJP for making the second payment off its own bat and putting you out of your misery before the interest clock started ticking.

I still wanted to know where the first chunk of money had gone, so asked HMRc to explain what happens to payments that go aWOL. a spokesman explained that payments received with incorrect or missing reference numbers end up in a central account. Efforts are then made to match them manually.

HMRc says the funds can usually be allocated to the right account if an executor gets in touch with it directly with the correct reference. This might have resolved matters sooner, but you weren’t to know — and apparently hadn’t been told this when you asked what was happening.

Reassuring­ly for others in your position, HMRc said if the original payment is made on time, as in your case, no interest would be charged even if a mistake is made and the money is missing due to incorrect informatio­n.

You were delighted the matter is resolved, and as a thank you kindly offered to donate to the Marfan Trust charity I support.

I WANT to get a smart meter so I can benefit from a tariff available to those who want to charge an electric vehicle. For 18 months I have been calling Eon Next to try to set it up.

I was eventually told I have the wrong type of gas meter and I was asked to contact National Grid to get it changed.

National Grid told me this was not necessary. It makes no sense that my gas meter is holding up the installati­on of my electric meter.

N. G., Wandsworth, London. YOu explained that some years ago you had to change the main gas pipe going into your house as it wasn’t large enough for the size of your detached home. This also meant you had to have one normally installed for businesses.

But as you said in your letter, you wondered why Eon next, which supplies your electricit­y and your gas, was having problems with this as the two types of meters are separate devices. I contacted Eon next on your behalf, but didn’t receive an acknowledg­ement.

However, this clearly sparked the smart meter team into action, as Eon next contacted you shortly afterwards and within days the electricit­y smart meter was installed. It turns out your suspicions were correct — your gas meter was causing the blockage.

Because that type of gas meter is technicall­y one used on commercial premises, Eon next assumed you must be a commercial electricit­y user and therefore the deal for the residentia­l tariff didn’t apply.

To enjoy this offer, it expected customers to have a domestic smart meter for both gas and electric. now Eon next has brushed aside this hurdle and allowed you to take advantage of the tariff you wanted.

When we caught up you said your family had reduced its usage by changing bulbs and using appliances more efficientl­y. You are still researchin­g options for an electric vehicle.

÷ WRITE to Sally Hamilton at

Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email sally@dailymail.co.uk — include phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organisati­on giving them permission to talk to Sally Hamilton. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibi­lity for them. No legal responsibi­lity can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given.

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