Massive overclaim for benefits!

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
9 replies 2.5K views
ApoorwomanApoorwoman Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
I posted on here recently asking advice about not accepting an inheritance and received very useful replies, for which I thank you. Unfortunately, having now gone through Mother-in-law’s paperwork, we are horrified at what we have uncovered.

She moved into a warden assisted flat on 22/1/2004. It seemed at the time that she had around £5k in savings and thus was awarded HB and CT benefit. The balance of her monthly rent has been paid by my husband ever since, until she went into hospital and we had to give the flat up on the 9/11/2012.

She went from hospital to a nursing home for a month, but they were unable to cope with her and she was subsequently moved to a more suitable home. At Christmas she contracted a chest infection and was sent back to hospital. At the beginning of January she was sent back to the home for ‘end of life care’ and subsequently died on the 16/3/2013. To date no nursing home fees have been paid and the matter was passed to Adult Services before Christmas, who were given her bank account details as neither my husband or his sister had POA and a debate was going on regarding Continuous Care. I should add at this point that my husband and I have neither seen nor spoken to MIL for the last five years after she said some terribly things to my husband who had been a loving and loyal son to her. Hence he walked away from the situation, but did continue paying the balance of her rent each month.

We have already paid for the funeral and various other expenses.

Having gone through her papers, I have discovered that at the time of taking up her tenancy she had around £12k and simply lied about her savings to get benefits. This has continued until her death when she was also getting Pension Credit and Attendance Allowance (the latter was legitimate). Her last statement for Pension Credit (Sept 2011) states total assessed capital £5636.49. However, she appears to have died with around £72k plus an Income Bond with NS&I for which we have no paperwork but I have written to them for details as it was paying her around £3 a month.

We frankly are in a state of shock and shame. Not only with the amount of money she has accrued but the fact that she was a benefit fraudster and do not know where to go from here. Obviously DWP will want the entire payments back covering the nine years, but regarding the home’s fees we have no idea.

I told NS&I that she had died when requesting details of the bond, but have not heard back yet. We have not as yet told her bank.

We were planning on getting a grant of representation, but in view of the above there does not seem to be any point. Should we just pass the above information to the DWP with the details of her various accounts and just walk away from the whole thing.

I would emphasize we had no idea that this fraud had been going on. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Replies

  • Fire_FoxFire_Fox Forumite
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    Funeral is normally paid out of the estate. Do you anticipate there will be any money for anyone to inherit? If not don't bother applying for probate/ letters of administration, just hand it over to DWP to deal with, next of kin does not have to act as executor or administrator.
    Declutterbug-in-progress.⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️
  • MotownFoxMotownFox Forumite
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    She moved into a warden assisted flat on 22/1/2004. It seemed at the time that she had around £5k in savings and thus was awarded HB and CT benefit. The balance of her monthly rent has been paid by my husband ever since, until she went into hospital and we had to give the flat up on the 9/11/2012.
    This means that your husband paid the balance of the monthly rent for approx 105 payments!!!!
    How much did this equate to as I am sure you could argue that this was a loan by your husband to his mother and therefore payable out of her estate.
    Therefore it might be worthwhile taking out the Probate to get this amount back even if the actual inheritance once the DWP get their 2 penneth would not amount to a great amount. Any costs in obtaining the Grant can be deducted from the Estate.

    If you need any assistance I am sure there is help available on here as and when situations arise.
  • elmerelmer Forumite
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    People on Pension credit over the age of 65 are given Assessed Income Periods (AIP) of approx 5 years at a time,

    During this period levels of capital do not have to be reported to the Pensions Service and you are entitled to claim the benefit whatever level of capital you hold.

    Perhaps check with the PS whether or not your MIL had an AIP, and if she did what capital she had declared at the start of it.

    There may not be any issues with her claim, or they may not be as high as you fear, and you may be eligible for any estate residues.

    elmer
  • McKneffMcKneff Forumite
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    And please stop being embarrassed or ashamed.

    You and your hubby have done absolutely nothing wrong.
    make the most of it, we are only here for the weekend.
    and we will never, ever return.
  • Fire_FoxFire_Fox Forumite
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    MotownFox wrote: »
    This means that your husband paid the balance of the monthly rent for approx 105 payments!!!!
    How much did this equate to as I am sure you could argue that this was a loan by your husband to his mother and therefore payable out of her estate.
    Therefore it might be worthwhile taking out the Probate to get this amount back even if the actual inheritance once the DWP get their 2 penneth would not amount to a great amount. Any costs in obtaining the Grant can be deducted from the Estate.

    If you need any assistance I am sure there is help available on here as and when situations arise.

    How could they argue that and why would they? The OP hasn't said it was a loan, and they didn't think there were any significant assets so nothing for MIL to borrow against. IMO to claim it was a loan when it was not is fraud. AFAIK overpayments are paid back first, as if they never happened.
    Declutterbug-in-progress.⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️
  • getmore4lessgetmore4less Forumite
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    Fire_Fox wrote: »
    How could they argue that and why would they? The OP hasn't said it was a loan, and they didn't think there were any significant assets so nothing for MIL to borrow against. IMO to claim it was a loan when it was not is fraud. AFAIK overpayments are paid back first, as if they never happened.

    AIUI not any more , HMRC,DWP, council are no longer prefered creditors.

    What to do next.

    This will be a tough call without an idea of the likely residual estate.

    If the creditors take this on (there are enough assets to make it worth their while even if insolvent) their costs will be higher than if you DIY so less chance of any residual.

    I don't have experience of dealing with DWP on this scale so not sure on the best action, prevous posts would suggest you need to look at any calcs they provide with a lot of diligence as they seem to get things wrong(you need someone that knows benifits rules going back years).

    It might be worth cooperating(to keep some control) to get a DWP first estimate of overpayments and see where the estate stands re solvency.

    care home fees are another issue.

    I would check with a legal proffesional how much you can do without being viewed as intermedling.


    It might be that your best option is to walk away and let them(DWP,care services) sort out the situation.
  • bylromarhabylromarha Forumite
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    McKneff wrote: »
    And please stop being embarrassed or ashamed.

    You and your hubby have done absolutely nothing wrong.

    Just wanted to re-emphasize this.

    We found things in mum's paperwork and in her home which, frankly, disgusted us. We'd suspected through the years, but finding it for ourselves made us disgusted.

    But we recognised it was mum doing these things, not us. you have NOTHING to be ashamed of. Your MIL made her own choices in life.
    Who made hogs and dogs and frogs?
  • Weary_soulWeary_soul Forumite
    272 Posts
    I think that in cases such as long overpayments like this one the DWP are meant to apply the Diminishing capital rule.

    This calculation is often overlooked by local authorities and the DWP but it can make a huge difference to the amount of an overpayment.
  • ericonabikeericonabike Forumite
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    "She moved into a warden assisted flat on 22/1/2004. It seemed at the time that she had around £5k in savings and thus was awarded HB and CT benefit. The balance of her monthly rent has been paid by my husband ever since, until she went into hospital and we had to give the flat up on the 9/11/2012."

    I assume MIL was getting a retirement pension, to which she would have been entitled regardless of savings, as with the Attendance Allowance. And so the Pension Credit would have been a relatively small weekly amount over this 8 year period.

    In your shoes, I would look at this dispassionately, and simply try to establish what is owed and what is left. Your husband appears to have been doing right by her despite the way he was treated. I would suggest that there is likely to be a reasonable sum outstanding and he would have a legal as well as moral right to it.

    Above all, DO NOT assume any guilt [moral or legal!] yourself. View this as a monetary issue which you can resolve.
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