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Executors of will.......what happens now?!

(31 Posts)
Orangeseed Sat 04-Nov-17 17:57:06

My father passed away just over a year ago, myself and oh were executors of his will. We obtained a grant of probate in January and shortly after his bank account was closed and his estate was distributed in line with his wishes.
He had a credit card with his bank which was paid off, he had no other debts, utilities etc were on prepayment meters.
His bank account had been frozen 2 days after his death when I rang to inform them of the situation and we used a service provided by the registry office called "tell us once" who inform all government agencies of the death....pensions, council tax etc.

We have today received via the probate solicitor a letter from DWP saying that they had made a payment in the week following his death which they now need repaying.
My problem is this.......why has it taken over a year for them to notice their error? Do we have to settle this bill considering the time lapse of over a year? now that there is no estate it will have to come from me / my oh is that right? I have no idea if his pension was paid in advance or arrears and therefore if he was actually entitled to the payment? I'm not even sure we still have any paperwork to check the payment was ever made in the first place.
Obviously I will ring them on Monday, I wondered if anyone had any experience of this?
Thank you in advance.

retirednow Sat 04-Nov-17 18:35:27

I'd have thought the probate solicitor could advise you if this is to be paid, we are still settling over and underpayments to the council/tax office nearly a year later.

Orangeseed Sat 04-Nov-17 19:24:06

I just wondered if anyone had any knowledge before I just pay or end up spending more money with the solicitor. I expect we will end up having to pay, it just seems unfair that acting as executors has ended up costing us money as well as considerable time and stress, we did everything possible to make sure everything was done correctly and now's not a huge amount of money but coming around the anniversary of his death and funeral I was already feeling very wobbly about things.

Ambonsai Sat 04-Nov-17 19:34:59

Firstly, if they made a payment and the account was frozen it wouldn't have credited.
Do you have bank statement with the credit showing? You can ask the bank for copy statement.

Is it a pension payment?
If the estate has all been settled you can't really be expected to make a payment from it.
Fwiw- my husband owed HMRC a large amount in tax, there was no money in the estate so I couldn't pay it, they wrote it off.

neddle Sat 04-Nov-17 19:40:03

Surely the probate solicitor should have picked up on this. It's hardly an unusual situation for the last dwp payment to need repaying. I seem to recall that it happened for one of dh's parents when they died.

LightastheBreeze Sat 04-Nov-17 19:48:05

When DM died she was overpaid by one payment and I got a letter about a month later informing me of this so I just paid it back and claimed it against the estate. We also had a letter about the same time that the DWP would do an investigation into any overpayments of pension credit. The estate can’t be distributed until this is cleared.

It sounds like your DWP letter was very late and I think there are certain timescales where payment has to be made as long as a notice went into the London Gazette about the death so any claims can be made

Orangeseed Sat 04-Nov-17 20:19:13

Lightasthebreeze I think a month or so sounds like a reasonable time frame, and if it had come then it would have been sorted straight away, but its over a year since they were told of his death. The estate has been distributed already because as far as we could know all debts had been cleared and I wanted his last wishes to be dealt with as quickly as possible so once his bank account closed the money was given to the people stated in the will.

Ambonsai I'm not sure we have any bank statements, a lot of stuff got shredded when we cleared his belongings, we don't have space to store everything, as far as I know nothing went in his account following his death, and prior to it closing the bank paid some of the funeral costs, we paid the rest (about £1000, but obviously we didn't mind that).

LightastheBreeze Sat 04-Nov-17 20:28:32

Did a notice go into the London Gazette, if it did there is only a short amount of time that a claim can be made on the estate, I think a couple of months, if it didn’t then the Executer can be pursued for debts. My probate solicitor told me the London Gazette notice was very important

Orangeseed Sat 04-Nov-17 20:33:38

As I've said already I expect I'll need to pay it, the timing is just awful though, like I said already coming between the anniversary of his death and funeral, I've already been so tearful lately and I have a 12 week old baby so hormones, lack of sleep, lack of money...... It all feels like a very big deal and then I start feeling anxious that there could be more to come! Even though I thought we'd done everything right, I don't ever want to be an executor of a will ever again.

Orangeseed Sat 04-Nov-17 20:37:50

As far as I recall the probate solicitor was dealing with putting notices in papers

LightastheBreeze Sat 04-Nov-17 20:44:09

If the notice went in it’s probably to late for them to claim payment google London Gazette and put your late fathers name in the search and it should come up and the date it went in, that should set your mind at rest that claimants can’t come forward

Namethecat Sat 04-Nov-17 21:00:34

When my mother died I was the sole executor. Even though she had property, stocks and shares, private pensions I delt with probate myself. The over payment to his account will have to be paid irrespective of the time lapse. They have wrote to you because you are responsible as an executor. If you do not have bank statements you could request a copy from the bank but I should imagine there will be a cost. From how your putting your point across I think it's annoying you that you will have to pay. I'm assuming you were a beneficiary from your father's will ? Try to see it as an overpayment that wasn't his to give and by it going back it's paying someone else's pension that really needs it. Sorry for your loss.

Orangeseed Sat 04-Nov-17 21:20:12

Namethecat which part of any of my posts come across as being annoyed at having to pay?
I'm annoyed (more devastated actually) that this has come up now at a time I'm already really struggling with grief, and not soon after his death when I was having to get my "sensible head" on and just deal with it.
And to answer your question I didn't benefit from his death

Voice0fReason Sat 04-Nov-17 23:46:48

I don't believe you have to pay. If you informed everyone and sent copies of death certificates where necessary then it was up to them to reconcile everything their end.

Bourdic Sat 04-Nov-17 23:59:52

When probate is granted, DWP are automatically notified. They have the address of the executors because of the grant of probate. They then write to the executors usually very quickly and warn you not to distribute the estate until they have checked that nothing is owing. A year is an absolute nonsense and you should put in a formal complaint as it is clearly completely unreasonable to expect an estate not to have been distributed after a year. In terms of checking bank accounts, the bank should give you copies of past statements but check what they would charge. The DWP website should have details about how to complain or go to your local CAB

Bourdic Sun 05-Nov-17 00:02:39

Have you checked the date on the letter- could the probate solicitors have overlooked it? If so, I would argue they are liable

thereinmadnesslies Sun 05-Nov-17 00:05:54

If it’s any help, I had to chase DWP for a year to tell me how much my late mum had been overpaid by. They seem completely disorganised and because she received multiple benefits the different offices seem incapable of talking to each other.

Bourdic Sun 05-Nov-17 00:14:15

With both my uncle and my mother,I heard from DWP within a month to 6 weeks of probate being granted.

Orangeseed Sun 05-Nov-17 09:10:37

Bourdic, yes I checked the date on the letter, 28th Oct, so the solicitor has forwarded it to me very quickly.
The DWP already had my details because during his illness I contacted them so that they could stop a payment he wasn't entitled to whilst in hospital (I can't remember the name of it, some sort of carers allowance he used to pay for people to help with shopping, gardening etc,) they also wrote and sent me a cheque for a payment he should have received in Sept, I think it was a fuel allowance of some sort?
I'm just concerned that this has taken such a long time to come to their notice, they have been informed of everything, we were told by the solicitor that his estate could be distributed after probate was granted, so that's what we did, it wasn't big sums in his estate, only covered the majority of the funeral costs and a few thousand split between various friends who had helped him over the years.

lamettarules Sun 05-Nov-17 09:50:42

How upsetting .

Like others I received notification of an overpayment within weeks of my mothers death .

I think I'd be inclined to reply in writing and explain that the estate is without funds as it was wound up ,all beneficiaries paid etc over a year ago .

Bourdic Sun 05-Nov-17 15:12:02

Well OP I really would just write and say you’re not paying and why ( unreasonable length of time, told by solicitor to distribute estate) and ask them for details of their complaints procedure.

artisancraftbeer Sun 05-Nov-17 18:35:04

Op, do check the London gazette before you write to the dwp. All notices are online. If you can get a copy notice and send it with Bourdics letter, it won’t do any harm.

Financialconund Sun 05-Nov-17 18:41:16

Op we did tell us once, and it didn't flow through to numerous other departments in council where there were odd debts. I had to call loads of times to make sure everything had been paid and covered. Re dwp again I had to call departments a few times saying over and over are they sure everything is paid and up to date. Now nearly a year on I am still reserving cash to cover odd bills. So in short whilst tell us once is good I just had a feeling it wasn't 100 fallible

Financialconund Sun 05-Nov-17 18:42:18

At what point can executors say an estate is wound up? What is the line drawn?

Bourdic Sun 05-Nov-17 18:51:06

I think it’s all about reasonableness and behaving with due care and attention. The two estates I dealt with there was no solicitor but if I’d paid a solicitor I would have expected that s/he had some responsibilities in this. But I’m sure there’s something on the probate form about them checking with DWP - I’ll have a look.

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