Probate - DWP


R

Robert

A friend's mother has just died - he is an executor. He has just had
a letter from the DWP : Recovery From Estates Department. There is a
very comprehensive form which seeks details on type of assets and
value of assets at death. (Bank accounts, PO, Building Society,
National Savings, Unit Trusts, Stocks and Shares.............. and on
and on)

In the letter there is the interesting phrase "The law allows us to
ask for the information" ; my friend has answered that he assumes the
law allows him to decline the request and is going to do so.

But at last my question : probate has been granted, and the estate has
been distributed, what happens if there are late claims on the estate
eg the deceased received benefits to which they weren't entitled. Do
the beneficiaries have to cough up their share of this "new" debt?
 
Ad

Advertisements

E

Eric Jones

Robert said:
A friend's mother has just died - he is an executor. He has just had
a letter from the DWP : Recovery From Estates Department. There is a
very comprehensive form which seeks details on type of assets and
value of assets at death. (Bank accounts, PO, Building Society,
National Savings, Unit Trusts, Stocks and Shares.............. and on
and on)

In the letter there is the interesting phrase "The law allows us to
ask for the information" ; my friend has answered that he assumes the
law allows him to decline the request and is going to do so.

But at last my question : probate has been granted, and the estate has
been distributed, what happens if there are late claims on the estate
eg the deceased received benefits to which they weren't entitled. Do
the beneficiaries have to cough up their share of this "new" debt?
The new debt becomes the liability of the executors.How they get the money
back is up to them.
Was the mother in receipt of any benefit other than old age pension? If she
was eg DLA or carers allowance etc etc then they want to check that her
assets match up to her claim. If she 'forgot' to declare investments or bank
balances then they will make a substantial claim on the estate.
The fact that the executor seems to want to decline answering the request
would IMO make it a certainty that they would start an investigation
starting with a copy of the will, which is now in the public domain, since
Probate has been granted. I think it is good practise for an Executor to
contact the DW&P and ask whether there is any clawback due when reporting
the death.
IANAL
 
P

Peter Crosland

A friend's mother has just died - he is an executor. He has just had
Not a wise move at all. He is likely to be in much more trouble if he fails
to cooperate. If the deceased omitted to declare assets and thus obtained
benefits they were not entitled to the DWP are quite rightly entitled to
recover the benefits that were fraudulently obtained by the deceased.

The executors should have placed a notice in the London Gazette and a local
paper to the effect that they would distribute the estate unless claims were
made by a certain date. If not the executors are usually personally liable
for any claims.

Peter Crosland
 
R

Robbie

Robert said:
A friend's mother has just died - he is an executor. He has just had
a letter from the DWP : Recovery From Estates Department. There is a
very comprehensive form which seeks details on type of assets and
value of assets at death. (Bank accounts, PO, Building Society,
National Savings, Unit Trusts, Stocks and Shares.............. and on
and on)

In the letter there is the interesting phrase "The law allows us to
ask for the information" ; my friend has answered that he assumes the
law allows him to decline the request and is going to do so.
Talk your friend out of it, that would be a very unwise move.

The phrase is there simply because in the past people didn't realise the
DWP could ask for this information.

The interest from the DWP is mainly in relation to means-tested
benefits. You'd be surprised what is uncovered after a death, in some
cases bank accounts with several thousands of pounds (and I mean tens of
thousands of pounds in some cases) where the deceased had been pleading
poverty. It's a recovery of public funds which should never have been
paid out in the first place. Its origins are somewhere back in history,
probably the old poor laws.
But at last my question : probate has been granted, and the estate has
been distributed, what happens if there are late claims on the estate
eg the deceased received benefits to which they weren't entitled. Do
the beneficiaries have to cough up their share of this "new" debt?
Don't know this bit, sorry

Robbie
 
G

Guest

Not a wise move at all. He is likely to be in much more trouble if he fails
to cooperate.
Why should anyone be in much *more* trouble if they fail to
co-operate?

What sort of trouble would that be?

The worse case scenario is that the deceased was paid too much in
benefits and this amount must come out of the estate. The maximum
that the DWP can recover is the amount which was over paid (if indeed
this was the case).

I suspect that it is a trawling exercise by a department that is
trying to justify its own existence. It would be interesting to know
how much it costs to run that department and how much they actually
recover each year. They are probably recovering payments made as a
result of the incompetence of the DWP rather than any fraudulent
activity of the deceased.

It is up to the DWP to prove that this is the case - let them do their
own work - including providing all evidence of what the deceased
"claimed".
 
P

peterwn

Why should anyone be in much *more* trouble if they fail to
co-operate?

What sort of trouble would that be?
1. There are almost certainly offences and penalties for not providing
that information.

2. The agency may just decide to get more bl***y minded over the
matter and has the power and means to make life miserable.
It is up to the DWP to prove that this is the case - let them do their
own work - including providing all evidence of what the deceased
"claimed".
This sort of approach may be OK at the Old Bailey, but has little
relevance with respect to administrative law. If cooperation is not
forthcoming, they can probably make a generous assessment of what is
owed, and it is the person at the other end who has to show that it is
wrong.
 
Ad

Advertisements

G

Guest

1. There are almost certainly offences and penalties for not providing
that information.

2. The agency may just decide to get more bl***y minded over the
matter and has the power and means to make life miserable.
In which case you will be able to detail the offences/the penalties
and in particular the law which is relevant - please do so.

When you have done that you can then please explain how the agency can
make life miserable for the executor.

Of course - if your response is pure speculation or wishful thinking
then just ignore the request.
 
T

tim \(back at home\)

Why should anyone be in much *more* trouble if they fail to
co-operate?

What sort of trouble would that be?
Because, as you have already been told the debt
will pass to the executor. They will be far less
inclined to write it off if you muck them about
than if you are honest and helpful

tim
 
R

Ronald Raygun

The worse case scenario is that the deceased was paid too much in
benefits and this amount must come out of the estate. The maximum
that the DWP can recover is the amount which was over paid (if indeed
this was the case).
Sure, but that can well amount to quite a bit, and it is the executor
who will be personally liable, given that probate is over with and the
estate has been distributed. The executors have no legal power to
force the beneficiaries to give anything back. This would not be
a problem, of course, where the executors *are* the beneficiaries.

There is insurance available for just this eventuality, to indemnify
the executors against the financial consequences of having failed to
establish (through no real fault of their own) to whom the deceased
owed money. Too late for that now, though, in the OP's friend's case.
 
M

Mike the unimaginative

snip
In the letter there is the interesting phrase "The law allows us to
ask for the information" ; my friend has answered that he assumes the
law allows him to decline the request and is going to do so.

But at last my question : probate has been granted, and the estate has
been distributed, what happens if there are late claims on the estate
eg the deceased received benefits to which they weren't entitled. Do
the beneficiaries have to cough up their share of this "new" debt?
I too am dealing with, what I thought was a straightforward probate, and
I have received a variety of communications from this department - no
doubt they do have this right to ask for information, and I guess that
in the case that I am dealing with they may be entitled to some of the
estate (because in dealing with the deceased's finances, we unearthed
some investments that no-one seemed to be aware of) - but - they are
grossly inefficient (two people in the same office send conflicting
letters on the same day), and their collections office (in Corby?) are
downright bl**dy rude.
The initial letter I got said quite clearly that we were ill advised to
distribute the estate until their claim is settled. Mind you, they don't
seem to be in any hurry to let me know how much they want, or to return
the documents that they asked for....
Now.... don't get me started on the various parts of the Inland
Revenue....
 
G

Guest

Because, as you have already been told the debt
will pass to the executor. They will be far less
inclined to write it off if you muck them about
than if you are honest and helpful

tim
Now just let me understand what you're saying here.

There is a possibility (NB a possibility) that the estate owes the
DWP some money. If the executor refuses to provide the information
because they haven't got it/can't easily get it/have no legal
obligation to provide it, then the DWP can do their calculations and
can inform the executor that the estate owes some money. The executor
can then check if this is the case and then pay it if they agree. If,
on the other hand, the executor rolls over and provides all the
requested information, then the DWP will just say many thanks - just
forget about it.
 
Ad

Advertisements

G

GB

There is a possibility (NB a possibility) that the estate owes the
DWP some money. If the executor refuses to provide the information
because they haven't got it/can't easily get it/have no legal
obligation to provide it, then the DWP can do their calculations and
can inform the executor that the estate owes some money. The executor
can then check if this is the case and then pay it if they agree. If,
on the other hand, the executor rolls over and provides all the
requested information, then the DWP will just say many thanks - just
forget about it.
Do the DWP have access to the probate return? If so, they may have a pretty
good idea that there was an over-payment anyway, which is why they are
making enquiries.
 
E

Eric Jones

GB said:
Do the DWP have access to the probate return? If so, they may have a
pretty good idea that there was an over-payment anyway, which is why they
are making enquiries.

Wills that have been confirmed by Probate are public documents. Anyone can
have a copy for a small charge of anybody'swill.
This is how newspapers etc can tell how much a deceased person's will was
worth £x of pounds.
The document will provide an amount of the total value of the estate.
 
M

Miss L. Toe

GB said:
Do the DWP have access to the probate return? If so, they may have a pretty
good idea that there was an over-payment anyway, which is why they are
making enquiries.
If they did then they wouldn't need the details from the executor - they
could just issue an invoice (if one was due).

So they don't

But they should.
 
R

Richard Miller

Eric Jones said:
If she 'forgot' to declare investments or bank balances then they will
make a substantial claim on the estate. The fact that the executor
seems to want to decline answering the request would IMO make it a
certainty that they would start an investigation starting with a copy
of the will, which is now in the public domain, since Probate has been
granted. I think it is good practise for an Executor to contact the
DW&P and ask whether there is any clawback due when reporting
the death.
IANAL
This is quite a common scenario. On death, it sometimes turns out that
the deceased had assets that the DWP was unaware of, that mean they
weren't entitled to some of the benefits they had received. The letter
means the executor has had personal notice of the claim, and is
therefore personally liable for it. Ignoring the letter and going ahead
with distribution was probably high in the top ten of the most stupid
things an executor can do.
 
R

Ronald Raygun

Richard said:
This is quite a common scenario. On death, it sometimes turns out that
the deceased had assets that the DWP was unaware of, that mean they
weren't entitled to some of the benefits they had received. The letter
means the executor has had personal notice of the claim, and is
therefore personally liable for it. Ignoring the letter and going ahead
with distribution was probably high in the top ten of the most stupid
things an executor can do.
Not in this case, though, since (if I interpret the OP correctly) the
letter came *after* distribution had already happened.
 
Ad

Advertisements

A

Alan Frame

The worse case scenario is that the deceased was paid too much in
benefits and this amount must come out of the estate. The maximum
that the DWP can recover is the amount which was over paid (if indeed
this was the case).
Does the valuation of the estate (or assets for means-tested benefits
for that matter) include 'goods and chattels with a life of <50 years'?

I'd hate to think of the DWP getting their hands on my (as yet unborn)
grandchildren's cases of port - assuming I leave them any, natch ;-)

rgds, Alan
 
S

Sandra

This is quite a common scenario. On death, it sometimes turns out that
the deceased had assets that the DWP was unaware of, that mean they
weren't entitled to some of the benefits they had received. The letter
means the executor has had personal notice of the claim, and is
therefore personally liable for it. Ignoring the letter and going ahead
with distribution was probably high in the top ten of the most stupid
things an executor can do.
In terms of the most stupid things one could do, how would it compare
to a solicitor jumping to a conclusion on limited facts which have
been presented to him?

In my case, my mother died - I was the executor - there were two
beneficiaries my sister and myself. All assets were with a bank. I
applied for probate and spoke to the bank in parallel. The day I
received the grant of probate I took it in to the bank with the death
certificate. In a matter of days I received a cheque for the full
value of the assets. I split the money with my sister.

Some time later I received the trawl from the DWP.

I see no stupidity in what I did - the OP could be in a similar
situation.

Another of the most stupid things an executor can do is to waste money
on a solicitor when applying for probate and distributing the estate.
 
P

Peter Crosland

The worse case scenario is that the deceased was paid too much in
Does the valuation of the estate (or assets for means-tested benefits
for that matter) include 'goods and chattels with a life of <50
years'?

It would depend on the value of the whole estate. So if there was not enough
cash to pay the debts then assets would have to be sold to raise the money.
Then the debts have to be settled in a strict order of precedence.
I'd hate to think of the DWP getting their hands on my (as yet unborn)
grandchildren's cases of port - assuming I leave them any, natch ;-)
The answer is not to cheat the DWP by making false claims.

Peter Crosland
 
Ad

Advertisements

R

Richard Miller

Ronald said:
Not in this case, though, since (if I interpret the OP correctly) the
letter came *after* distribution had already happened.
The law provides that creditors have six months to bring claims.
Therefore if the distribution has happened within the six months without
the executor checking with the DWP if they have a claim, he is still
liable.

This is why a solicitor-executor will always write to the DWP and get
clearance from them before distributing the estate.

If the letter from the DWP has come after the end of six months from the
grant of probate, then the position would be different.

I believe that the executor would be entitled to seek money back from
the residuary beneficiaries to meet any liability, but the executor
remains primarily liable, and will have to pay any money due even if he
cannot get the money back from the beneficiaries.
 

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Similar Threads

USA Probate question 2
Probate Timetable 14
Probate in Pennsylvania 1
Sueing the DWP. 7
DWP and their targets 32
bank for dwp 3
The DWP is revolting 87
Delaying a probate estate 22

Top