When a loved one dies, it is understandable that sometimes people will go off the rails or not act in a manner that they should. We all respond to grief in different ways and it can be difficult to know how to react. At this time, we often find that we have a number of administrative duties to take care of, but given that many people are unable to think clearly or make the most informed decision at these times, there is often a situation arising out of things that happen in the wake of a loved one passing away.

There are many costs associated with a loved one passing away but there can also be a number of financial aspects to take care of in dealing with the estate that a person leaves behind. This can mean that there is a lot of money coming in and going out, which is often a recipe for disaster at the best of times but at a time when a person is dealing with the loss of a loved one, it can make anyone feel disorientated.

These are all factors to take into consideration, as is the fact that many people are quite ignorant of the requirements that are associated with someone dying and receiving money via inheritance. It is recommended to rely on legal support in these times because if you don’t, you may actually find yourself committing an act of fraud, even if you are not intentionally doing anything wrong.

It can seem as though it is harsh to punish people at this time, but there also needs to be an acceptance of a crime having been committed and if there was a loophole available for people to stand behind and use, it is likely that many more people would state that they are in this position.

Ignorance is never a defence when it comes to benefit fraud

Angela Waddington pleaded guilty to two separate charges of dishonestly failing to disclose the full and accurate details of her capital. The Magistrates Court in Kirklees heard that the 57 year old woman was responsible for managing the financial affairs of her mother, who has been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

After her mum passed away, Waddington retained the money in a bank account and didn’t consider the money to be hers, but as she was in control of it at this point, this clearly wasn’t the legal position of the cash. This also meant that there were implications for the financial status of Waddington and as she was receiving benefits, it turned out that a fraud had been committed, even though she was probably oblivious to the matter.

The initial claims had been correct and justified

Over a 22 month period, Waddington made claims for employment support, council tax benefit and housing benefit but she didn’t inform the SWP or Kirklees Council that she held a significant amount of money in savings. The prosecution found that a total of £11,523 had been overpaid to Waddington at this time. The court was informed that the original claims made by Waddington were genuine but as her personal circumstances changed, so should have the information she supplied to the authorities.

Bob Carr was the solicitor for Waddington and he said; “She opened a bank account in her and her mother’s name but she viewed the money as her mother and was a guardian for that money. Clearly she would not have been at fault if she’d got an order to look after her mother’s affairs and invested in her mother’s name with her the trustee. That she failed to do. In June 2003 her mother died and she’s now left with a substantial amount of money. This is about £50,000 that was never dealt with formally.”

As Mr Carr was at pains to point out, as soon as the offence was known, Waddington made sure that the money was paid back and she even made a donation of £1,000 to a charity that supports people suffering from Alzheimer’s. Mr Carr continued by saying; “It’s a very, very unusual case. She has lived an honest and industrious life and now finds herself having to plead guilty to a serious criminal matter. She’s terrified about coming to court but there was no greed involved.”

The Magistrates have ordered Waddington to comply with a curfew order which will last for 56 days and she has also been instructed to pay £85 in costs and £60 as a victim surcharge.

Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.