You & the Law – 6th July 2010

Debt collecting

After we sold our business my husband and I attempted to bring in the money we were still owed.  It took five years to bring one particular debtor to court, where the judge found in our favour and ordered him to pay our costs. 

He has a farm and several new vehicles, although I understand these assets are in his wife’s name.  But our Solicitor says it will cost at least £500 to pursue the money and we may still not get it.  JA

People who don’t intend to pay what they owe sometimes transfer their assets into the names of their wives so that, on paper at least, they own nothing that a bailiff could seize.

In some circumstances the court can set aside such transfers, but of course these proceedings all cost money.  Winning your case in court is often only the start of a process that can lead to your debt being repaid.

You don’t say how much you are owed, but if it’s a substantial amount it may be worth £500 (which you could eventually recover) to pursue it.  Bankruptcy proceedings (or the threat of them) are often a useful procedure where the debtor is hiding assets and where the debt is over £750.

Missed the boat

My father was left some money in a friend’s Will.  However my father died before his friend.  Will the money go to my father’s next of kin (ie myself) or into the friend’s Estate?  It doesn’t say in the Will that my father should be still alive at the time of his friend’s death.  DR

Unfortunately by the sound of things the Will doesn’t say what should become of the money in the event of your father’s death, either!
In that case, since your father isn’t here to receive the money, the gift will fail and the money will go back into the residue of the Estate.

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