Is this person being investigated for fraud? Where is the money?
July 22, 2011 9:28 AM   Subscribe

UK LegalFilter: Can you do a dead person for benefit fraud? What happens if you try? Details include a house sold privately, and a whole lot of uncertainty.

Once upon a time, a little old lady sold her house to a relative, or possibly the relative's spouse, for approximately half of its market value, on the understanding that said relative would move in and look after her.

Some years (more than two but less than seven) later, the little old lady died in a care home. Based on information from the care home staff, someone used the DWP's handy 'Are Hippies And Foreigners Stealing Our Money?' form (this one) to express their concerns about how the old lady's relative, or possibly the relative's spouse, had been managing her finances.

There was, of course, a will. Initially, people were told that the estate would be finalised once the last bill was paid. That bill was paid some months ago, and people are now being told (with no explanation) that they won't get anything until a date some 10 months after the funeral.

I'm wondering if any sort of investigation may be ongoing into the deceased's financial situation, and the way the relative handled it (deliberately reducing her assets in order to claim more benefits while keeping the assets for themself). If so, is there any way I can find out out about it? Might there be a court appearance, that they would be trying to keep quiet?

Anonymous because some of my family read this, but if you want to contact me privately, spamfilter.again at gmail dot com will reach me.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (6 answers total)
I'd go to the Citizen's Advice Bureau, they're fairly clued up on this sort of thing and can tell you what to do next.
posted by hnnrs at 9:44 AM on July 22, 2011

Or contact the local council from whom the alleged benefits were fraudulently taken. Having been on the sharp end of their sword (mistakenly) I can tell you that they take allegations like these very seriously.
posted by hnnrs at 9:45 AM on July 22, 2011

10 months after the funeral is quite quick for these things. Even without any investigation. So when they say finalizard after the last bill is paid, it typically means 10 months or so after the last bill is paid. There wouldn't be much explanation - it seems fairly standard how long it takes.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 11:16 AM on July 22, 2011

A year is standard for estate settlement, fwiw. I wouldn't read anything into the timeline aspect.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:15 PM on July 22, 2011

Usually if someone owns a house and they need to go into nursing care, then the value of house is taken into consideration when assessing how much the owner has to pay towards their care - sometimes they have to fund the entire amount and will need to sell their home to pay for it.

So if someone who recently used to own a home no longer does so by the time they go into a nursing home, the council (which has to fund the care if the person has no assets) will be asking questions, such as:

- was the property recently sold?
- was it sold on the open market, or to a relative?
- was it sold for full value or at an undervalue?
- what happened to the proceeds of sale?

The council is duty-bound to ask these questions, because it's us, the council tax payers, who are funding this, and the amount of money available is finite. If someone has deliberately disposed of their assets in order to qualify for benefits to which they would otherwise not be entitled, (a) it's not fair on the council tax payers and (b) it eats into the amount of money the council has available to spend on people who actually do qualify for their care home fees to be paid in full.
posted by essexjan at 2:11 PM on July 22, 2011

There will be an investigation. Get legal advice. Citizens Advice while wonderful is unlikely to be equipped to help in a case such as this. See a solicitor.
posted by dmt at 12:16 PM on July 23, 2011

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