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reallymadwoman

DWP overpayment due from deceased's estate***Settled***

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Not sure if this is benefits or should be somewhere else.

 

There is an outstanding debt to DWP for an overpayment which my relative had been paying off slowly for about 10 years. The relative died recently, and I am dealing with the estate.

 

Within less than 2 weeks from the date of death I had quite a stroppy letter from DWP demanding immediate repayment of a sum about double what I had expected or alternatively providing detailed information on all of the estate's assets in a form to be returned within 7 days.

 

Leaving aside the sensitivity of contacting me even before the funeral, I couldn't either pay them or provide the information they asked for in their time scale even if I wanted to. Are DWP even entitled to detailed information about the estate's assets or to demand payment/information so quickly? I was under the impression they were no more of a priority than the credit cards for example.


RMW

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Whoever is handlng the deceaseds affairs, could just respond to DWP, advising that the funeral has not taken place yet and it is too early to provide any information about the deceaseds finances.

 

This website info might assist you.

 

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/dealing-with-the-debts-of-someone-who-has-died


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Within less than 2 weeks from the date of death I had quite a stroppy letter from DWP demanding immediate repayment of a sum about double what I had expected or alternatively providing detailed information on all of the estate's assets in a form to be returned within 7 days.

 

In this situation, I would respond with an equally terse letter pointing out that that it is highly insensitive to be making such demands so soon after death. Inform them that no debts will be paid until such time as an executor (or administrator) has been appointed and all assets have been accounted for. Follow this up with a second letter demanding a breakdown of the alleged debt along with a list of all repayments to date. Head this as a Subject Access Request and they are then bound by the GDPR rules.


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Helpful advise both, thank you.

 

I haven't actually applied for probate (there's no will) because I don't yet have details of all the assets or all the creditors so I think I'll tell them to get stuffed until I'm ready to deal with it, but in the meantime, please justify every penny you're asking for .....


RMW

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Is there a possibility the Estate of the deceased is insolvent, that his (or her) debts exceeded his assets when he died? If so I'd think carefully about taking on formal responsibility for dealing with his Estate. It's complex, you'd need to apply for a court order, and if you got it wrong, e.g. in the priority for paying creditors, you could be personally liable. Search for 'insolvent estates' and there are several lawyers' websites that explain the law about this.

 

Incidentally, when someone dies without a Will you don't apply for Probate. You apply for Letters of Administration and then become the 'Administrator' (not the Executor). Important if dealing with official bodies to be clear what you have been appointed as.

 

As you aren't appointed Administrator yet you have no formal legal duty or responsibility for the deceased's financial affairs. So you can tell DWP to naff off. You probably won't be able to get the full details of his assets from banks etc until you have been formally appointed the Administrator of his Estate.

 

I'd reply something like "I was assisting [the deceased] informally with his/her affairs and I intend to apply for Letters of Administration (the deceased did not leave a Will). Until I have this I am not able to dal with your request. In the meantime please send me full details of any amounts owed to you at the date of death". Making a SAR was suggested earlier, but I'm not sure you can make a SAR on behalf of a dead person, particularly when you have no formal appointment as Administrator.

 

Incidentally, if the Estate is insolvent "priority creditor" only means they get paid before other creditors. It doesn't mean they have to get paid quicker. Even if the Estate is solvent DWP aren't entitled to require payment to them within within a particular timescale. They have to wait like everyone else.

 

As for the form asking for details of all the assists of the Estate, DWP are not entitled to ask for this at this time. It would be different if it turns out the Estate is insolvent. It's my understanding - you should check with a lawyer - that if the Estate is insolvent creditors do have a right to see the the accounts of the Estate so that they can check the the law for paying creditors in order of priority has been complied with.

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Thank you Ethel for the comprehensive reply.

 

The estate is almost certainly insolvent, in fact if DWP's figure is even close to correct then they'll be lucky to get 10p in the £.

 

I appreciate that I have no legal duty at the moment to deal with this, but if I don't no one else will and my Mum will end up getting all the hassle as the deceased lived with her before going into a care home so that's the last address on file. I'd love to just pay a solicitor to deal with it but the deceased's entire estate is less than £4000 once the funeral costs have been paid so it seems a bit overkill. There's no property, his car is already back with Motability and his personal belongings, mainly clothing, are of little to no value.

 

Apart from DWP there are a couple of credit cards with small balances that I do know about and perhaps one or two more that haven't contacted the deceased for a while - his affairs were neglected for some time before he was diagnosed with dementia and things did get a bit out of hand.

 

I hadn't realised that I would have to apply for a court order though I was aware that I could be personally liable for some of the debts if I got things wrong. As (so far as I know at the moment) the only debts are unsecured and of the same priority, I thought I'd be ok so long as I put the notice in the Gazette to try to identify anything else.

 

Are you able to give any further advice re the Court Order or should I just get a solicitor? I suppose if they get most of the estate in costs at least DWP won't get it.


RMW

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As the Estate is so small maybe try Citizens Advice? The reference to getting a court order was in one of the solicitor's websites about insolvent Estates, I don't know any more about it I'm afraid.

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I have another issue which I hope someone can assist with.

 

There was an ongoing complaint with the Ombudsman Service in relation to one of the deceased's accounts which has now been concluded. They are paying £25 compensation for their own failings, and have recommended that the creditor involved pay £30 compensation as a credit to the account. I think that as that particular creditor is likely to get 20p at best, the £30 should be paid to the estate and distributed proportionately, but they won't agree.

 

Should the £30 be paid to the estate? Is there anything I could say that might convince the Ombudsman service of that?

 

Is it even worth the time and effort to argue about it or should I just tell them to jog on as that's all they're getting? I'm concerned that even though it's basically a trivial amount someone could be upset about me effectively giving it away. On the other hand, it's £30 which I don't mind paying myself if I have to.


RMW

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If money was owed to the deceased at date of their death it is now due to their Estate. The liability to pay money owing is unaffected by the death of the person it is owed to.

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Still trying to deal with this.

 

I wrote to all the creditors I was able to identify, some have responded, some haven't so I've today sent chaser letters as I know that there will be an outstanding balance to pay for at least 2 of them. I also put the notice in the Gazette, the time limit for that runs out in about 2 weeks. 

 

If some creditors are simply not responding, how many times do I have to write to them before giving up and assuming they don't want any money?

 

Incidentally, DWP still haven't bothered to justify their demand despite two reminders.


RMW

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Posted (edited)

A 'deceased estates' s27 notice in the London Gazette is really about unknown/unidentified creditors, not ones you know about but who haven't confirmed the exact amount owing.

 

Once the s27 notice expires you are protected from any unidentified creditors. 

 

Are the creditors you are talking about things like store cards with relatively small amounts owing, a few hundred ££ at most? I don't know the strict law about this, but I had a similar situation acting as Executor when I didn't know whether the Estate would be solvent (it was in the end). After initially advising them and sending them a copy of the Death Certificate, and telling them I didn't know when I would be able to tell if the Estate was solvent, I never heard from any of them again. Not one of them, not ever. That was over 5years ago! I think in practice that these store cards, as long as they know the cardholder really has died and it isn't someone trying to avoid payment, write it off and close the a/c immediately if its just a few hundred ££. It's not economic/they can't be bothered to keep the a/c open and chase it.  I'm not saying that's right in law, just my experience!

Edited by Ethel Street

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Correct...unless you happen to cross Link Financial DCAs and the problem of divulging too much information.

 

Regards

 

Andy


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No unidentified creditors have come forward yet.

 

The identified ones who haven't responded are a Barclaycard (two different accounts) and Vanquis - at least one of them has a balance over £2000 though the Vanquis account may be less than £500.

 

 


RMW

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Barclaycard have finally responded and they are writing off three separate accounts totalling more than £5K

- I'm sure this is entirely from the goodness of their hearts and nothing to do with my 'prove it' letters.

 

DWP, despite their initial insistence that they be repaid even before the funeral was held have now ignored me since 7th February. I've sent 3 reminders, the last via a tracked method so I know they got it. Until they respond I can do nothing to settle the Estate and I'm starting to get 'gentle reminders' from some of the other creditors plus I want this sorted and done with.

 

I can't believe DWP would write off any balance, but it's surely not reasonable to just ignore me until they can be bothered to respond? Any suggestions?


RMW

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You could send a complaint letter. If you visit Gov.uk website, there is a page about how to complain. Also contacting your local local MP about DWP not responding to letters and causing you stress in not being able to finalise the deceaseds estate. 


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Sod's law, the minute I finished drafting the complaint, they replied. Finally. They're still asking for nearly double what I think they're due but they've also said that if I don't apply for Letters of Administration (I won't) they can't enforce repayment and can only rely on my honesty to pay them. However, because they can't enforce they also can't accept a dispute over the amount ....

 

I'm tempted to give them £50 and split the rest between the more co-operative creditors.


RMW

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On 04/05/2019 at 15:09, reallymadwoman said:

I'm tempted to give them £50 and split the rest between the more co-operative creditors.

 

You shouldn't do that. After any priority creditors are paid, the estate should be distributed to remaining creditors on a pro-rata basis.

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but only those that can PROVe there is a debt..

 

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Finally all settled, thanks to everyone who gave advice.

 

The best single bit of advice I was given was not to apply for Letters of Administration but to deal with everything informally as there was so little in the estate and it was clearly insolvent. Most creditors have just written off the debts, it obviously wasn't worth their time to get 10p in the £, the only ones that didn't were Capital One, Vanquis and DWP.

 

Had I done things formally, then I'd have had to supply endless bits of paper to DWP in particular to prove every penny. As it is, I included a line in the settlement letter stating that in view of the amounts involved I wasn't prepared to enter into any further correspondence or supply any documents, i.e. take it or leave it. 

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RMW

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