Money spent whilst lady in a care home prior to death

I would appreciate any help with regards to an estate I have been instructed to deal with. The lady made her will leaving her estate to 3 children. She did not want to leave any money to her daughter but to her children and another child. She made her will and severed the tenancy of the family home whilst she was in the process of divorcing her husband. She was divorced but did not get a financial settlement.

Due to her own mother dying, the lady being in a very poor state of health and other factors she went back to live in the family home with her ex husband and her daughter (and family) .She went into a care home for the last 3 months of her life.

The appointed executors have renounced but the parents of the child want to take out letter of administration with the will annexed. Having obtained copies of the lady’s bank accounts I have found that during the stay in the nursing home over £15,000 has been spent on holidays (4K) , currency and multiple withdrawals from ATM machines. It is clear that these were not for and on behalf of this lady. This also explains why the person with access to the card has refused to instruct anyone to deal with the estate. She has just tried to get a copy will to send to receive a life insurance payment.

What would members consider appropriate in terms of the money spent from the deceased’s account.

Collette Hodkinson

CPH Solicitors

Is it suggested that this money was expended without the knowledge or consent of the deceased?
Is it possible that these sums were spent for the benefit of said grandchildren with her knowledge and consent?
If the former then consideration of legal action to recover the money may be appropriate? Theft is I believe a police matter. At the very least these are likely to be added back as gifts within 7 years of death.
If the latter and a pattern can be established then, depending on her actual income, a claim for normal expenditure out of income may be worthwhile?
Maxine Higgins
Citroen Wells

It would be difficult to prove that the money was expended without the knowledge or consent. Approximately £10,000 has been withdrawn from ATM’s using the maximum amount per day . A further £10,000 has been spent on a holiday, currency , clothing etc. Knowing the people involved it is theft. The account had a cheque book so I would have thought that if she wanted to make a gift she would have written a cheque. I am thinking that I should ask for the money to be returned to the estate other wise the personal representative will consider contacting the police.

Collette Hodkinson

CPH Solicitors

We are dealing with a similar situation, although in our case the sum involved is closer to £100K and the funds have been misappropriated by an Attorney acting under an LPA.

After being very persistent with the Police who didn’t initially want to be involved (as the primary ‘victim’ of the crime is deceased) they have advised that they are going to interview the attorney under caution with a view to bringing charges of ‘Fraud by Abuse of Position’ as apparently this approach has more chance of being prosecuted than a straight charge of theft.

Nick Ash
Will and Probate Services

If the person(s) who have removed the money are readily identifiable, and refuse to restore the deceased’s accounts, upon conviction for theft the police may make an application for a confiscation order with any moneys recovered being due to the estate.

Whilst not necessarily a speedy process, in the absence of voluntary restitution the involvement of the police might be the most appropriate way for the personal representative to act/demonstrate they are acting in the best interests of the estate.

However, if the culprit(s) have no, or little in the way of, realisable assets it is unlikely any significant recovery will be achieved, although the beneficiaries may feel justice has been served (notwithstanding that they will end up bearing the personal representative’s costs incurred in liaising with the police, etc.).

Paul Saunders