You and the Law – 13th April 2010

On the front line

All over the country there are pensioners working as volunteers in charity shops.  Are we covered legally if, say, we take a fall in the shop through an item being put in the wrong place, or worse still, are knocked about during an attempted till snatch?  The consensus of opinion seems to be that volunteers are not covered by the charity’s insurance at all after they reach 65.  CP

You will have to check with the charity’s insurers.  Employers are obliged by law to take out insurance to cover liability towards their employees (whatever their ages), but Health and Safety Executive guidelines suggest that such insurance is unnecessary as far as volunteers are concerned. 

You may be covered under public liability insurance, but such insurance isn’t compulsory so it’s possible the charity you work for doesn’t have any.  If you were to be injured as a result of negligence on the part of the charity or its paid employees, the fact that the charity didn’t have insurance wouldn’t necessarily prevent you bringing a claim for compensation. 

The charity will have a duty to take what steps it can to minimise the risk of physical assault.

Will problems

My father died recently leaving everything to me in his Will. 

However, when I produced the Will and the death certificate, both his bank and my solicitors told me it would have to go to probate.  Why?  KB

Although banks, building societies and the like can pay out sums up to £5,000 on production of a death certificate, they will generally require you to produce a Grant of Probate if the amount comes to more than that.  This is partly to ensure that the money goes to the right person, but also so that the size of the estate can be checked in case inheritance tax is payable. 

In some circumstances, the financial institution will ask you to sign a statutory declaration promising to distribute the money correctly and indemnifying them for releasing it.

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