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Am I liable for emptying a deceased's relative's flats unwanted furniture?

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Am I liable for emptying a deceased's relative's flat of unwanted furniture? My auntie recently passed away I very rarely seen her and was shocked that I had a phone call on the weekend saying she passed away in hospital, as I'm her only living relative, I contacted the housing association about giving her flat up, they told me I would need to clear the flat I told them I can't due to other commitments and living too far away, they told me I would be liable to pay then so much for 3 items, can they do this? Am I liable for any costs?

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I've already looked at that but didn't find it very helpful or clear, I certainly won't be paying for removals I will see citizens advice, people die every day without anyone left, who covers the cleanout of they are property

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Am I liable for emptying a deceased's relative's flat of unwanted furniture?

[...]

Am I liable for any costs?

 

The executor named in the will would be responsible for clearing the flat and any costs would fall to the estate. There are a few charities that will collect furniture (if it is in good condition) for free. British Heart Foundation is one. Failing that, there are house clearance companies that will come in and remove everything for a fee (I was quoted £120 last year), but they won't tell you if there is anything of great value.

 

The three questions that need to be asked are:

 

 

  1. Is there a will.
  2. Who is named as the executor.
  3. What is the value of the estate.

 

If there is no will, there won't be any named executors, and if the value of the estate is zero, then it is best to leave well alone.


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But you will be referred to as the next of Kin and as you have already phoned the Housing Association they now have you on file?


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The executor named in the will would be responsible for clearing the flat and any costs would fall to the estate. There are a few charities that will collect furniture (if it is in good condition) for free. British Heart Foundation is one. Failing that, there are house clearance companies that will come in and remove everything for a fee (I was quoted £120 last year), but they won't tell you if there is anything of great value.

 

The three questions that need to be asked are:

 

 

  1. Is there a will.
  2. Who is named as the executor.
  3. What is the value of the estate.

 

If there is no will, there won't be any named executors, and if the value of the estate is zero, then it is best to leave well alone.

 

If they are not an executor of a will and have no legal standing to clear a relatives flat, then i would question the legality of the councils request. In this situation, surely it is only the council housing association that has any legal responsibility as landlord, to secure the Contents of the flat, until such time as it can be established, who is the rightful inheritor of tbe contents. What if this lady had a large suitcase full of her savings and a Van Gogh on the wall. There have been cases where people living in modest homes, have left contents of considerable value.

 

When a relative died we had a local auction room that organised house clearances to clear the flat. There was nothing of major value and most needed to be dumped, but the value of items covered the house clearance.

 

Think i would be asking for more time and to go have a look at what has been left. In the extra time period allowed, you can make more enquiries.


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As has been mentioned, only the Executor has legal responsibility over the deceased's estate. Even then, the Executor can opt to relinquish that role. Also, I don't believe 'next of kin' is a legal title, just a courtesy.

That said, and has also been mentioned, it might be worth investigating the value of house contents.

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My auntie notified the hospital I was next-of-kin, I didn't know until the weekend i was i certainly didn't agree, but as being the only living relative she had I can see why she did it, I can't see there being any value to the estate as she struggled and was on benefits she was an old-age pensioner. Also there was no will, I have not taken anything from the flat as I don't need anything from their. But do need to read the gas and electric meter, I will see what citizens advice says tomorrow thanks all for the advice

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Irrespective of wills and executors ...as you are her only living relative it may be a nice gesture to finalise matters...as you state you have to attend to take readings......look at the link I provided and look at the ways of disposing furniture etc to worthy organisations that would be very grateful to be able to assist others....without any costs to yourself.

 

We can only hope that someone will do it for us when our time is up:wink:


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I agree I would rather a charity take what they could rather than go to landfill, but what about any remaining items as I can't afford any clearance fees

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Do you know if Auntie had any insurance for her funeral costs etc ?

 

Who currently has the keys to her flat ?

 

Who is going to arrange her funeral ?


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Yes luckily I found out her funeral was prepaid so no worries there thankfully, her carer has the keys.

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Yes luckily I found out her funeral was prepaid so no worries there thankfully, her carer has the keys.

 

That is good news :)


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I'd firstly check your aunt's bank account to see if there is any money,

many elderly people live frugally but often have a lot of money in the bank, for a rainy day .

 

 

If there is less than £500 in the account you should be very careful about intermeddling in the estate.

Your aunt may have been overpaid benefits, the HA will probably want advance rent for the flat, and the HB will have ended on the week of death.

 

 

Then there's the cost of clearing and cleaning the flat- nobody will do that for free,

you really should give it a once-over to see if anything's of value before inviting anyone in to clear it ,

cos they wouldn't tell you if the walls were covered in Rembrandts!

 

There could be hundreds of pounds worth of liabilities so if there's no money or assets just walk away,

tell the HA not to contact you again in relation to the matter or you will deem it harassment.

 

 

I know it sounds harsh and cynical but dealing with an insolvent estate is a world of pain,

as many creditors will (wrongly) seek to make you personally responsible for debts of the estate.

 

PS You can still arrange and go to the funeral.

Edited by konark
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I'd firstly check your aunt's bank account to see if there is any money, many elderly people live frugally but often have a lot of money in the bank, for a rainy day . If there is less than £500 in the account you should be very careful about intermeddling in the esatate. Your aunt may have been overpaid benefits, the HA will probably want advance rent for the flat, and the HB will have ended on the week of death. Then there's the cost of clearing and cleaning the flat- nobody will do that for free, you really should give it a once-over to see if anything's of value before inviting anyone in to clear it , cos they wouldn't tell you if the walls were covered in Rembrandts!

 

There could be hundreds of pounds worth of liabilities so if there's no money or assets just walk away, tell the HA not to contact you again in relation to the matter or you will deem it harassment. I know it sounds harsh and cynical but dealing with an insolvent estate is a world of pain, as many creditors will (wrongly) seek to make you personally responsible for debts of the estate.

 

PS You can still arrange and go to the funeral.

 

Agree with this. Don't assume there is nothing left by this person. An elderly Aunt of mine led a very frugal life and squirrelled away quite a lot of savings. Enough cash to pay about 3 years care home fees, without need to sell her small flat.

 

Somebody needs to go to her house to search through all the paperwork and see what they can find. There may be share certificates, building society books, other financial records. You won't know, unless you can visit and what you can find out. As a next of kin and not an executor, you are not responsible for paying any debts she might have left, but you don't want to see others profit. If it is found that she has left money, if relatives are not found within a certain period of time, the money goes to government treasury.


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Hi I am so sorry for your loss and the added pressure this situation is causes especially at a time when it really isn't needed but you need to be aware of the following.

 

1. Ensure that if the relative was on any Benefits at all to immediately inform (in case their is an overpayment).

 

2. You also need to be aware with the Housing Association that they will charge rent until the property is officially handed back (in circumstances like this some housing association give a set period rent free i.e 1 or 2 weeks) this is an example you would need to check with the Housing Association on there Policy.

 

The best advice I can give you is to speak to the Housing Association to try and come to a mutual arrangement about the property and it been cleared and handed back otherwise if you don't they will further add rent and charges if they have to clear the property (but these will be added to the tenants rent account) until the property is officially handed back.

 

I appreciate just how stressful this situation can be at this time but please speak to the HA.


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a friend and i have just cleared the flat, but I still don't see why I should be responsible for doing it, but anyway it's done now end of story. thanks all for your advice. I know if she as been over paid after she passed away it needs to be returned, but what if she had money in an account before, is that legally mine?

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a friend and i have just cleared the flat, but I still don't see why I should be responsible for doing it, but anyway it's done now end of story. thanks all for your advice. I know if she as been over paid after she passed away it needs to be returned, but what if she had money in an account before, is that legally mine?

 

Hello there.

 

Someone asked if your aunt left a will, I can't see an answer to that. The answer will help us to advise you.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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the OP stated in post #8 that there was no will


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No no will, I'm the only surviving relative. So at the time.. big mistake didn't think it was necessary.

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Just done that survey.. the Crown can **** right off!!! I've still got access to the bank cards and pin numbers... So **** the Crown, I'm her nephew my father was her brother, im the only surviving relative she had, if I have got to take ownership of my uncle's grave for my auntie to be buried with him then it's good enough for me to take ownership of any money she left. ****ing government!!!!

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You haven't understood the rules of intestacy.

If you are her nephew then she must have had a sibling, and if they have also passed then as that siblings child you will inherit.

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If she had no children of her own then she obviously had siblings. Do you know how many? How many children did they have. If the answer is only you then you will inherit, though as you haven't told us how much is in the accounts yet we don't know if to congratulate you or not. Remember the estate may well have to pay some debts yet, from the HA or if overpaid, from the DWP.

You did not have to clear the house but you'd have kicked yourself if there were any valuable assets in the house and you hadn't checked.

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I've still got access to the bank cards and pin numbers...

 

Without the proper authorisation, any attempt to access the deceased's accounts would be theft and possibly fraud. Before you empty the accounts, you must apply to the Probate Registry for Letters of Administration (often known as "applying for probate). Once probate has been granted you can then liquidate the assets, identify any remaining living relatives, and then distribute the monies according to the rules of intestacy.

 

Failure to apply for probate would leave you open to a very expensive litigation if an unknown cousin popped up out of the woodwork claiming a share. Intermeddling in an estate could also expose you to the risk of any debtors holding you personally liable. By clearing the flat, you may well have crossed the line of intermeddling. If you are in any doubts about possible repercussions, please seek the advice from a qualified solicitor conversant with probate.

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