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Deceased's debts

(23 Posts)
GiveMeStrength2day Thu 30-Dec-10 19:05:18

Hi - hoping someone might be able to help me.

Will try to cut a long story short. Basically, my father passed away last month. I hadn't seen him for over 20 years (which I won't go into) but the coroner's office tracked me down and I felt I should take responsibility for arranging his funeral and sorting out any other stuff. Kind of regretting it now! No will, no "estate" as such - a flipping mess!

By arranging the funeral, I've incurred a splendid post-Christmas bill of £2000 (she who arranges has to pay!) although I did manage to get the available funds from my dad's bank account (which nowhere near covers it!). No idea how I'm going to pay the rest and it doesn't appear I'm entitled to make any claims from anywhere. Given I'm a SAHM and DH is on a low wage, I guess that means we'll have to go without. Anyway, I digress!

This morning I received a letter from my dad's council housing office advising me that there is (what appears to be one week) rent outstanding. Basically, dad's housing benefit ceased on the day he died and it seems the rent still accrued. The council are asking me to settle the rent.

My understanding is that, in law, funeral expenses are given priority when "allocating" any monies hence why I withdrew his bank account money. Now that's all gone, can the council really pursue me for money? And, come to that, can BT do the same? They've asked me for the £19.00 he apparently owed!

FiveColdRingsForSolo Thu 30-Dec-10 19:07:40

You should get some help from the government for funeral costs I think. The funeral director should be able to help you there or google it now?

gibbergabber Thu 30-Dec-10 19:09:58

No they can't persue you for it. If he left no estate, house, shares, savings tell them so and they'll have to write it off.

Are you eligible to claim a funeral grant here

FiveColdRingsForSolo Thu 30-Dec-10 19:10:10

look here

uggmum Thu 30-Dec-10 19:10:20

No you cannot be pursued for this debt. I dealt with my fil estate a few years ago and had debts of £15k written off.

Companies will always try it on and ask you for the money. Write back to them, advise them that there is no money in the estate and that you are not liable for the debt and tell them to write it off.

There is no legal way that they can make you pay. Funeral debts are a priority and have to be deducted from the estate prior to any debts.

Hope this helps. If you need any further advice you can pm me.

welshdeb Thu 30-Dec-10 19:10:34

If you write to the rents dept to tell them there is nill estate (- show bank statements etc ) and you have paid funeral out of your own pocket then they will write the debt off, although they will expect you to empty the flat asap so it can be re let.

brokeoven Thu 30-Dec-10 19:13:20

Really, they write off any debt do they?
Thats comforting as i know that if mil dies before fil, we will be left with colossal debt to deal with.

Its a real worry to DH & me.

GiveMeStrength2day Thu 30-Dec-10 19:28:45

Wow! Many thanks for all your quick responses smile

I don't think I'm eligible for any sort of grant as they've got all sorts of loopholes and clauses. For example, need to be in receipt of some sort of higher rate child tax credit or something. Also, they are quite specific about estranged relations (although not sure how they'd prove that). That "get-out" appears to exclude my brother (who is disabled with learning diffs) from making any claim (my dad was still in touch with him) even though he's in receipt of the disability allowance they mention.

The other thing I read on the claim literature was about "repaying the grant" - so, if I've read things correctly, it seems it might just be a tideover which is repayable once probate is granted to release funds (which, again, isn't the case for me).

We cleared dad's place out in record time as they only accept tenancy termination on a Monday and we had only got access to the property on the Friday!

The thing is, I could have just walked away from it all and the council would have had to arranged everything (property clearance, funeral etc) but my conscience (daft as it is!) wouldn't allow it!

Anyway, I'm relieved at what you've advised and will draft some letters aocordingly.

Families eh?!sadsmile

skydance Thu 30-Dec-10 19:39:56

If you get more than about £545 tax credits a year, (I'm not sure of the exact amount but it's around that) or I think double that with a baby under 1 year old, (again I'm not sure exactly with all the changes the gov have been making), then you are on higher rate tax credits and should be entitled to the grant, I wouldn't mention that you've been estranged.

FiveColdRingsForSolo Thu 30-Dec-10 20:17:40

But they can only claim back what he had in his estate ie if the funeral cost £3k and he only had £2k which you pay back, then they should help you with the emainder I think. It's definitely worth checking it out; if you don't ask you don't get...

GiveMeStrength2day Thu 30-Dec-10 21:01:53

Yep, I think I will submit a claim form and see what happens. I guess the worst they can do is say no! I won't mentioned the estrangement - don't understand the relevance really (as it's not like I'll be profiteering - is that the right word?!) nor how they can prove it.

ballstoit Thu 30-Dec-10 21:11:22

Are you saying your brother would be unable to make a claim because he was estranged?

I only ask because when my ex's Dad died (we were together then), both his brother and sister would have been entitled to claim a funeral grant for him but because ex was working the response was that he could afford to pay for it.

So, in the end his Dad had a 'paupers' funeral. He had done no parenting as he spent most of ex's childhood in prison and tbh I didnt feel we should waste our family income paying for anything for him.

FiveColdRingsForSolo Thu 30-Dec-10 21:14:31

Totally understandable ballstoit.

FiveColdRingsForSolo Thu 30-Dec-10 21:15:26

OP, why don't you take the forms to the CAB and get help and advice from them? they'd know for sure.

lal123 Thu 30-Dec-10 21:17:37

Fivecoldrings - don't think that's right unfortunately. If you have agreed to arrange the funeral then you have agreed to pay for it. Yes you can use estate to cover costs but if estate doesn't cover costs then person arranging will be liable.

However, folk above are right - any debts he accrued would have to be paid by the estate - if there is no estate then the debts die with him.

GiveMeStrength2day Thu 30-Dec-10 21:44:44

ballstoit - as far as I could see the guidelines stated that my brother wouldn't be able to make a claim because I was estranged from our dad. In other words, there are loopholes and get-outs to cover many situations! But, to clarify, this does also mean that I can't officially make a claim either. However, given we are both in receipt of the relevant benefits (me & DH child tax credit/my brother disability) I'm going to chance a claim.

I completely understand someone being unwilling to make arrangements/get involved. The undertaker told me about someone who had arranged a neighbour's funeral cos they thought they were being kind and doing a good deed when there was no-one else but unfortunately that then made the neighbour liable for the bill! My dad wasn't a bad man (just a bit misguided I think) and I don't really begrudge making arrangements but my life would have been so much easier if he'd had, for example, a funeral plan!

GiveMeStrength2day Thu 30-Dec-10 23:08:40

One further favour if I may - whilst I can set out a letter explaining the situation (to the council) could anyone please provide me with suggestions for a final summary paragraph to the letter. Basically, saying "given what I've explained above (ie. in the letter) you can't have any money nor can you pursue me for it". But in a more formal way. Please

FiveColdRingsForSolo Thu 30-Dec-10 23:39:14

You have up to 3 months to claim it lal123, so she might be able to. It's definitely worth her checking it out rather than just accepting she can't.

lal123 Fri 31-Dec-10 08:23:56

givemestrength - depends what the rest of your letter says, but you probably don't need a final sentence like that - the Council will know they can't pursue you for the debt

welshdeb Fri 31-Dec-10 09:14:54

Dear rent officer
Re mr xx xxx deceased, address, rent account ref xx
I write concerning rent owing on above property to xx date. ( the date you handed keys in)
Mr x passed away on xx date, i enclose copy death certificate. mr xx did not leave a will and I enclose copy bank statement showing balance of £x at the date of his death. Mr x had no other estate.

I enclose a copy of the account rendered by funeral directors xx xx ltd for £xx. As you can see there was insufficient funds to cover the funeral costs and I am therefore advising you that the estate has no funds to cover the rent debt owing.

If you need any further information please contact me,
Yours etc

Your name (daughter of mr xxx)

frazzled74 Fri 31-Dec-10 09:22:24

I was in same position with my dad, i wasnt entitled to funeral grant but its worth a try. The citizens advice bureau wrote a letter for me that i sent to various debtors to state that there was no estate and that i was not liable for any outstanding debts.The only people i had problems with were southern water(suprisingly, credit cards, loan sharks etc were all fine)

GiveMeStrength2day Fri 31-Dec-10 16:59:30

Many thanks for your suggestions.

When I handed in the keys I provided the council with a copy of death certificate. The letter asking me for the money doesn't even reference the fact that my dad is dead! I have to say, the woman I saw at the council (when I took keys back, gave death certificate etc) really shouldn't be dealing with bereaved relatives either as she was quite brusque. Quite an eye-opener discovering the different attitudes of companies/people when advising them of a death!

NewYearNewSolo Fri 31-Dec-10 22:06:07

I guess if it doesn't touch them, they don't feel it or maybe they have had no personal experience of a close family death. One day, she'll know the feeling and will probably remember you in the back of her mind and feel very bad at behaving the way she did.
Try not to take it personally.

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