Do I owe Le­gal & Gen­eral £400?

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - READERS’ LETTERS -

I helped my nephew set­tle the es­tate of his late mother, who died a year and a half ago. He was ex­ecu­tor and main ben­e­fi­ciary.

Part of the de­ceased’s in­come was a pen­sion from Le­gal & Gen­eral.

A pay­ment was made in re­spect of this four days af­ter the death. This we pre­sumed was the fi­nal one. No fur­ther pay­ments were re­ceived, so we un­der­stood that Le­gal & Gen­eral knew they had been stopped.

Then, 14 months af­ter the death, Le­gal & Gen­eral wrote to the de­ceased’s bank claim­ing back the £400 that had been paid.

The let­ter was for­warded to the ex­ecu­tor, who passed it to me. Le­gal & Gen­eral said, in the ab­sence of full set­tle­ment, it would in­struct its le­gal depart­ment to com­mence pro­ceed­ings. RH, WEST SUS­SEX

In or­der to avert, as you put it, un­pleas­ant­ness, your nephew re­funded what in fact had been an over­pay­ment.

You say ad­min­is­tra­tion is your par­tic­u­lar forte so you had hap­pily stepped in to help. How­ever, it struck me that, as with so many cases where there is a third party in­volved, you hadn’t li­aised en­tirely be­tween your­selves.

You said your nephew had in­formed the “one stop shop” of his mother’s death. I sug­gested this might be the “Tell Us Once” ser­vice of­fered by some lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and which, if avail­able, is usu­ally high­lighted dur­ing the death reg­is­tra­tion process.

This dis­sem­i­nates news of a death to some lo­cal and cen­tral gov­ern­ment agen­cies. Other bod­ies, such as in­sur­ers, need to be in­formed sep­a­rately but, ap­par­ently, in this case hadn’t been.

Un­known to ei­ther of you, pen­sion pay­ments had con­tin­ued to go into a bank ac­count that ap­par­ently still had the fa­cil­ity to re­ceive them.

Le­gal & Gen­eral only be­came aware of the death some months later when it re­ceived a “mor­tal­ity re­port” fromthe Depart­ment for­Work & Pen­sions. It then man­aged to claw back the other pay­ments from the bank, which ap­par­ently did not in­form the ex­ecu­tor.

Le­gal & Gen­eral then wrote to the bank as it did not have any de­tails of the next of kin. The let­ter was for­warded.

By then though pro­bate had been granted and the es­tate dis­trib­uted with­out the £400 be­ing de­ducted for the pur­poses of in­her­i­tance tax, which had been ap­pli­ca­ble.

So there had been a loss. Con­sci­en­tiously you said, if all else failed, you would re­claim the tax ret­ro­spec­tively. Le­gal & Gen­eral pointed out that it had ev­ery right to re­claim the money and was stick­ing with this.

I ar­gued that there had been a gen­uine mis­un­der­stand­ing over the “Tell Us Once” ser­vice and, al­though I did not have the au­thor­ity to check this out, I felt the de­ceased’s bank may well have been some­what lax.

Now, en­tirely as a ges­ture of good­will, Le­gal & Gen­eral promised to re­fund the £400.

This re­fund was, though, ini­tially in­ad­ver­tently over­looked but, af­ter fur­ther push­ing from me, it was au­tho­rised 20 days af­ter it had been agreed.

Be aware that in­de­pen­dent or­gan­i­sa­tions that of­fer to no­tify com­pa­nies of a death may be tied in with com­mer­cial ven­tures.

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