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abstibus | 16:08 Mon 06th Jul 2009 | Law
9 Answers
I had a surprise phone call from my dead husband's sister-in-law yesterday . I haven't seen her for about 8 years. I will try to describe the scenario briefly and see if someone can tell me how to proceed. 4 brothers, A, B, C, D A died 25 years ago - no children B (my husband) died 11 years ago. Estate passed to me. C died 10 years ago (it was his widow who phoned me); one son. D died 4 years ago - wife predeceased him; no children. D sold his house and apparently deposited the money in an account he opened in my (dead) husband's name in order to be able to claim income support. I don't know how he managed to do this, as I thought money-laundering processes were so stringent that proof of identity, etc., was required. When s-in-law visits me this week, how should I handle it? I THINK she wants me to sign something to get the money released. I do not know if D made a will. The whole thing smells of fraud to me, and I do not want to get involved. Many thanks.


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Report the deceased fraudster to the benefits agency ASAP.they will want to recover any overpayment they made from the fraudulent bank account.
If I was you I'd go and claim the money as you are clearly the benificiary of your husbands will and this money is in his name.

Failing that it's benefit fraud as daffy says.

Do not sign anything. Research it thoroughly.
You say D died 4 years ago and his wife predeceased him. I assume you mean she died before him. D had no issue. If D did not make a will then living siblings share estate. Was money paid into account in your husband's name before or after his death. What has wife of C got to do with the estate of D other than trying to get a share of money. She would have to prove that money is still part of D's estate. Some would argue that money in your deceased husband's 'account' is yours, I know I would.
You think this smells, and maybe it does. But if it is genuine (& how did C's widow happen to find out about it after all this time? - you really need to ask her) then you need to know (as magicmerlin says in his/her very useful post) whether D left a will.

If he did not, then what should happen is that DWP are informed of the fraud by D so that they can reclaim from the account all the overpayment they made to him. The rest of the money (if any) should be shared on the basis of intestacy rules - probably between A's widow (if he had one), C's widow and you.

However, where is the proof that the money in the account came from D? What information will the bank want in order to release the money? How did C's widow find out about it? How much money is involved? Was D committing benefit fraud to receive other benefits as well as Income Support? If he was, and it went on for some time, the money due to DWP etc. could add up to many �000s.
I would admit nothing , sign nothing , and say even less.

Let the others do the donkey work to get whatever it is they think they should have.
When things really kick off ( if they do ) , then get a good solicitor to protect your interests.
Don't take any grief , don't put up with hassle , claim ignorance at every opportunity,and don't get involved with verbals.
Best of luck.
Does this account and the money actually exist? My first reaction would be, that what business is it of C's widow in the first place? As others have said, how did she know? what you do really depends on how involved you want to get, although if the money is in your husband's name you may have no choice. I should tell her you have to consult with your solicitor to identify if the money exists, and if so, what he recommends you should do in the circumstances and watch her reaction. If she goes up the wall be very suspicious........
Are you afraid of blackmail?
You have not explained exactly how/when you got to hear about this money and when the account was opened ie before or after your husband's death.
If you/your husband didn't know about the account presumably it was not included as part of your husband's estate for Inheritance Tax purposes and you have not had access to it as part of his estate?
Report the fraud immediately. The benefit fraud ended with D's death which limits the amount to be repaid but the account is probably still accruing interest so there could still be a balance to be distributed.
Checks are made to trace undisclosed assets belonging to the estate of a benefit claimant for recovery purposes.
I would advise DWP but it is likely that due to the length of time since D died the paperwork and computer records may no longer exist.
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The first I knew about this money or the supposed account was on Sunday afternoon when she phoned me.

I have no reason to fear blackmail, as I have nothing in my life that anyone could blackmail me with.

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