You and the Law 2nd August 2011

Dwindling prospects

When my father died he left everything to my stepmother.  She then made a will leaving her savings to her daughter and the house to me and my brothers.  Recently she has had to go into care, and the house has to be sold to pay for it.  If the house has been sold, does this mean we will lose any rights to the proceeds should there be anything left when she dies?  CB

If the will simply leaves you the house, and the house has been sold, then the gift will fail and you will be entitled to nothing.  However if the will says you are entitled to the proceeds from the house sale you may be able to claim that the cost of your stepmother is care has been funded from both her savings and the house proceeds proportionately.  Ideally your stepmother should write a new will to avoid this question.

Slowly does it

My son was paid too much by his employer.  The firm wrote to him several weeks later to tell him about the overpayment and he offered to repay the money at £10 a month.  They say this isnit acceptable: they want the full amount or they will pass it to a debt recovery service.  Can they do this? AV

You didn’t say whether your son is still working for the same employer, or how much he was overpaid, so it is difficult to tell whether his offer of £10 a month is reasonable.  I take it his employment contract doesn’t allow the firm to recoup the overpayment from his wages.  In that case a debt recovery firm would have to take him to court, and since this costs money it would probably be a last resort. If it did happen though the judge would decide whether your son’s offer was reasonable, based on his financial circumstances. If your son were to increase his offer to, say, £20 a month it might save a lot of aggravation. It’s not usually a good plan to upset one’s employer.

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