Author Topic: Strange situation  (Read 872 times)

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Offline sy55

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Strange situation
« on: January 28, 2018, 10:06:44 PM »
Good evening everyone. I've been looking at the forum for the past few days and have tried to write, but I tend to go on a little, so I am going to try and keep this simple.
My last remaining blood relatives are my mother and her brother, both turned 90, and he has recently died. My mother is fairly independent but a very nervous woman who is easily upset. They weren't that close because of things he did in the past, but he was family.
In his later life he befriended strangers, maybe buying friendship, but always ringing my mother to brag about how they looked after him and how much money he had, and ridiculing her for being poor and only having me in her life. First it was a young female neighbour, then a woman he met in a cafe, then a couple he met.
He bragged about putting money in their names so no family would get it. He had non-blood family through his second marriage. One of his claims were that his latest friends had transferred all his pensions to go into their bank and he would never have to worry about paying bills. The next minute he had fallen out of bed and was in hospital. His friends rang my mother to tell her and visited her, and rang with updates, he was home briefly with carers visiting because he wasn't mobile, then he went in a care home for two years, developed dementia, and died.
My mother had phoned the care home a few times to see how he was, they had been told he had no relatives, and took my mother's details as next of kin. His friends rang her occasionally and visited to tell her he had died. They promised to keep in touch with details of the funeral etc, rang once more to ask for details of his life, asked to visit again, but then never got in touch.
I have managed to find out when and where the service is, have arranged flowers to be sent, but we have obviously been cut out of everything. Uncle's friends have always withheld their number, the care home have never been in touch, we have no contact details for his second wife's family, but his friends made comments to my mother that there had been some falling out, so we don't think they will have been told either.
My mother has found this all very upsetting and overwhelming. My first thoughts were "oh well, that's families for you". But now I am starting to feel upset at the way my mother has been treated. She is too frail to go to the service anyway, and I certainly don't want any confrontation with this couple. But I would like to know if anyone else has come across this type of thing. This couple could be the nicest, most caring people in the world, but I am worried they are not.

Offline Emz2014

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Re: Strange situation
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2018, 08:27:27 AM »
Welcome to the forum  :hug:
Unfortunately family difficulties can be quite common around bereavement, whether its fallings out due to heightened/hurt emotions, or some family members become rather obsessive about money/belongings.
Im afraid I dont have any advice on what to do about the funeral - if the friends were visiting and making that effort it feels like they should be caring and would be pleasant if you go to the funeral xx
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. 
Hold on in there xx

Offline Karena

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Re: Strange situation
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2018, 11:29:25 AM »
familly especially siblings can be so difficult. I have attended a funeral where there was strained relationships at the service two famillies ex wife and current -that sort of thing - and two separate wakes -and a sister not sure which one to go too but settling for the one in which the more resonable wife understodd her situation and wouldnt resent that choice. - so it isnt unusual.

As you say you cannot really know what the couple is like -it seems odd that they have withheld their number but on the other hand if they have been caught up in previous conflicts with the second familly they may have assumed that you and your mum had contact with them - or been lead to believe you or your mum might create conflict because your uncle might have given them that impression.
You could go too the funeral service,sit at the back and leave quietly at the end  -would anyone know who you are ? or perhaps assume you are a former carer -so at least you can tell your mum you attended, but avoid potential conflict.Or if there is liklihood of a fall out -just say this is not the time and place for conflict and walk away.
Do you have a friend who would go with you just for moral support.
Re the two wakes -one was a big boozy affair, the other a meal with a few friends (i attended the latter which was much more about the person who had died than the official one -) so not a wake as such, but is there another way your mum could pay her respects in person   - perhaps lay some flowers on a more historic familly grave -or somewhere special too her and her brother when they were children.

Offline sy55

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Re: Strange situation
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2018, 02:50:42 PM »
Thank you for both replies. Having given it a lot of thought I am going to keep well out of it all, and let them get away with whatever it is they are up to. I have autism, so don't deal with conflict very well.
I am just surprised that anyone can register a death, arrange a cremation, and deal with a persons affairs without any checks on whether the deceased had family.

Offline Karena

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Re: Strange situation
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2018, 04:50:36 PM »
probably best to stay out of it then Sy, or as i sugested, if she wants to do so then help your mum mark the passing her own way, so there is no need to attend the funeral.

I am also quite suprised they were able to do that legal stuff, Having now looked it up, it appears that this is the case.

If your mum was assigned next of kin the registrar would normally insist on next of kin registering the death except in certain conditions that dont apply in this case.
However:
It is possible your uncle designated his friends as next of kin -which is perfectly legal to do even if there are relatives  and i suspect by paying his pensions into their bank account, as he claimed, he then gave them power of attorney too. So even though you notified the home your mum was technically next of kin they either didnt get round to changing it, or were not able too because your uncle had made them legally next of kin.To change that he would have had to be consulted in order to change it back, and if he refused or was considered to be too ill or  "not of sound mind" then the home would not be able to change it without embroiling your mum in a complicated legal process which would not have been easy for your her to handle.
Perhaps they should, out of manners have notified you of that, but they didnt have a legal requirement too.

As regards the funeral, anyone can arrange a funeral but they also have to pay for it.
If there is no will  funeral costs are to come from the estate, in which case the bill  is presented too the estate executor -usually but not exclusively a solicitor.If there isnt enough money in the estate too cover the funeral bill then it, or the unpaid part of it goes back too the person who arranged the funeral  regardless of their relationship with the person who died.

Most wills specify that funeral costs come out of the estate but again if it isnt covered by whats in the estate it goes back too the person who arranged the funeral to make up the difference.
In terms of contract law the contract with the funeral director is with that person not the deceased, unless there is a separate funeral plan made in their lifetimes.

If there was no will then it gets messy but i think, as the friends have quite confidently just gone ahead and done this, then they know there is a will and they are the beneficierys which could be the source of the row with the stepkids as, the age at which he accepted legal guardianship of them would determine whether they were entitled too some of the estate as dependants in the case of their being no will.
I think that as well as ensuring for whatever reason, that the step kids do get nothing, by leaving all this too his friends to deal with your uncle will have made a will, and, at the same time, whether he intended too or not. has potentially also saved your mum and you a lot of stress.

Offline sy55

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Re: Strange situation
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2018, 06:04:10 PM »
Thanks for all of that Karena. I have been digging around finding what information I can on all the rules etc, and you have confirmed a lot of what I suspected, although what a minefield it all is.
The service was today, so we can say for certain now that the couple never had any intention of informing us about it, and of course you are correct in that it has saved my mother, and subsequently me, a lot of stress. There was a funeral plan. Some years back I bought plans for myself and my wife, my mother and mum-in-law, and my Uncle decided to do the same. I presume there will have been a will and that it would have been changed several times. I would like to see that, just to see what was said, and I have found out how to get a copy via Gov.uk Find a will, but I assume it isn't obligatory to register it there. It's certainly not there yet.
Funnily enough there was a case in a local paper yesterday of a woman getting jailed for 14 months for forging a will, so it does happen, and people do get caught.
It's all certainly been a learning curve.
Thanks again.

Offline Karena

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Re: Strange situation
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2018, 02:30:49 PM »
yes definitely a minefield. :hug:

Offline longedge

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Re: Strange situation
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2018, 07:18:12 PM »
Depending on the value of the estate, application will have to be made to the High Court for probate to be granted and the will is registered at that time, if there hasn't been any recent change. Grant of probate certainly has to be proved to e.g. banks to release any substantial funds and for the sale of property etc. If push comes to shove then there are Solicitors who specialise in contentious probate resolution.
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I'll never get over losing her but,
one day I might learn to live with it.

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Offline sy55

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Re: Strange situation
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2018, 05:53:06 PM »
Thanks for taking the trouble "longedge" - I have come to the conclusion that there wouldn't be any assets left after two years in a care home, I think he has given everything a way to various people over the last ten years or so. Pity because my mother is badly in need of a bungalow.
I have had a few revelations today - I don't like confrontation but found myself passing the local Registrar office this morning and the funeral home this afternoon, so I decided to be brave and ask a few questions, pushed on by my mothers continued inability to understand what has gone on.
I'll try and write a bit about it tomorrow. I may have uncovered a reason we weren't told of the arrangements. Probably not something I am able to tell my mother though. :lipsrsealed:

Offline longedge

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Re: Strange situation
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2018, 10:11:59 PM »
I think it's important to avoid letting this sort of thing take over your life. Easier said than done I know but sometimes it's easier just to let things go (this is coming from someone who has pursued matters of principle to ridiculous lengths in the past  :smiley: )
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I'll never get over losing her but,
one day I might learn to live with it.

        ~ I'm George by the way ~

Offline sy55

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Re: Strange situation
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2018, 11:06:42 AM »
Yes you are so right longedge. I have only really pursued things because I could see my mother would never get over this without having some answers. Really, my Uncle was horrible to my mum all her life, but he was still her best and only friend apart from me and my wife. She never speaks to anyone else, and misses their chats, even though he always upset her. It was only a few months ago that I asked her if she would want to go to his funeral if the inevitable happened, and she said she really didn't feel she would be able to, but she wouldn't forgive herself if she didn't. We talked about him, and she told me that he never asked about me, told her to shut up if she mentioned me, so basically he doesn't know anything about me over the last 20 years. On the other hand, before that when I used to meet up with him and his second wife, all he ever did was criticise my mother, and it seems that he was like that with everyone in his life.
Anyway. Yesterday I call in at the Registrars to ask if it was all legal and above board to register a death with such little regard for family. They were very helpful, and went through the list that says - Family... Anyone present at the death... organising the funeral.... executor.... friends....  He categorically stated that the list doesn't mean anyone on the list, it is all in an order to be worked through. For friends to register the death they must have stated that there was no family at all, or no family was able to attend, and that a fraud had been committed. He suggested I think about what I wanted to achieve, maybe contact a solicitor or the police, or just let it go.
I then visited my mother, she was still awfully upset, and now she is scared to death of this couple turning up at her door demanding money or being nasty to her. I've blocked withheld number calls to her phone now so they will have to show a number if they ring. She thinks that with their attitude in the past, my Uncle has probably told them all kind of lies about her.

So on the way home I decided to call in the funeral home just to try and find out how many were at the service, if his second wife's family were there, or informed, or anything else they could tell me. I was super polite, but the lady running the office turned on me and refused to discuss anything initially. She said she had a duty of care. I asked "but not to the family", she said no, to the person paying for the service etc. I said "well that would be the deceased because there was a funeral plan". She looked really shocked, and asked how I could possibly know there was a plan. That seemed very strange. I explained that I had bought for plans 20 years ago and my Uncle had thought it was a great idea and followed suit (he even demanded the 40 M&S vouchers that my mother got for recommending him).
The lady said that "in that case you know that when he took it out he named who he wanted to make the arrangements" - the couple in question, who I got the impression the lady knew well. My answer to that was that he didn't even know this couple then, they were much more recent. We then got to what the Registrar had said. She replied that this was absolute rubbish and she fetched the list and said "it is anyone on this list". I said "yes but in order of who is available". She disagreed and said "well your mother couldn't have done it, so would you?". I said yes, she laughed and said "what and arrange the service. I said "of course". She just stood shaking her head.
I got up to leave and said "well it looks like a matter for the police". I thanked her and left, but she ran after me and asked me to come back and asked why I would involve the police. I said "because there is something not right here". She then told me that all she knew, and not to quote her, was that my Uncle had left a letter to be read out at the service, and the Celebrant had opened it, and rung her to say he would not read it out because it was so nasty, and also that it was defamatory. I asked who to, she said she didn't know, I asked where the letter was now, she didn't know. I left then.
Maybe the letter was about me (except he knows nothing of what I have done in the past 20 years). Maybe my mother (which is why the couple didn't tell her where and when or take her). Maybe it was about the couple themselves, because he did bad mouth everyone in his life. Or maybe it was his second wife's family, who he always said he loved, but apparently told the couple bad things about them, so much so that they were going to be saying some things to their face.
Well. what a revelation. Probably best not to tell my mother. More questions than answers. I'm not sure how I feel now.

Offline Karena

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Re: Strange situation
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2018, 01:31:01 PM »
I think it may lie in the next of kin issue
"The term has no legal definition in the United Kingdom. An individual can nominate any other individual as their next-of-kin. There is no requirement for the nominated person to be a blood relative or spouse, although it is normally the case."
The nominated person must agree to the nomination, otherwise it is invalid. The status of next-of-kin confers no legal rights and has no special responsibilities, except as referred to below in the specific context of the Mental Health Act.The status of next-of-kin does not in any way imply that they stand to inherit any of the individual's estate in the event of their death. The intestacy rules[3] stipulate who inherits automatically (in the absence of a will); an individual can make a will and nominate other persons."

But if the couple arranged the funeral then the contract is between them and the funeral parlour -or covered by the funeral plan.It might be that he changed the original plan too a new one after he met them but as they are named i think liability for exeeding the cover if they did so rests with them.

The application of care home fees also varies -if the care is classed as being for  for health /medical reasons including some Altheimers cases  - as opposed too everyday living assistance, the person may be funded by the NHS from the NHS continuing healthcare fund.(i wsnt sure if this is still the case under this government but it is still on the yougov and alzheimers society page so i am assuming so) If it doesnt come under this, Care home fees come from the estate including the sale of a house.

It is possible that the nursing home didnt change next of kin too your mum -or your uncle refused too allow them too  -to be nominated next of kin the person nominated has too agree too it so presumably she would have been asked to sign something if it had been officially changed back.
Based on this potentially the couple or the register office were at fault -the registrar didnt ask or the couple lied about whther there was a living blood relative.

I think it is also fairly safe too assume that there was a will and it would have been in their favour -if not then they do not inherit as the normal intestancy rules apply.

Even if there is a will your mum or even you could potentially contest it -but its expensive, long drawn out, stressfull and the chances of winning not great unless you can prove this couple acted unlawfully.

On the other hand if it is uncontested they cant now present your mum or with a bill.If the estate doesnt cover debts then it becomes an insolvent estate.I will send you a link about that by PM.

I suspect that letter is probably long gone - and as i said it is a can of worms  - which if it was me i wouldnt open,nless some-one does try to present me with a bill i would leave well alone -
 but understandably despite the things he has said and done he is your mums brother and she wants too mark that in some way - too late for the funeral but i think there may be some way for her to do that in her own way.Maybe take her too the church it was held if its one they leave open  or memorial garden if it was a crem and no church - and just be present -or somewhere where you can have some kind of ritual at a more personal level maybe her garden if she has one - Plant a rose tree and say some words (i,dont mean alters and cloaks.)

 

Offline sy55

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Re: Strange situation
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2018, 12:27:38 PM »
Thank you Karena for this and your personal message. I fully agree that now is the time to sit back, make sure nothing untoward happens, and then leave things be,
To cover a few things, the dementia aspect does bother me a little. We spent many years trying to look after my mum-in-law and keep her out of care homes. We found that when it became obvious to us that and her GP that she had Alzheimer's, she had been doing her best to cover it up for many years. One telling sign was an old cheque book from 8 years previously, in which she had gone through 25 cheques trying to write the date, and got it wrong every time. So you never know when it starts to affect judgement. I know my Uncle had 50,000 at one time, probably double that, and he never spent much on anything. I also knew he moved it around to maximise his benefits, which is a joke because that is why he fell out with me, I was in and out of hospital, practically paralysed, and he viewed that as being a scrounger. He had no idea what I did with my life in the 18 years since then. I saw him on buses a few times after that and smiled or waved and he just looked away.
Whatever happened over the past few years, he obviously was very bitter and made his choices, so let's hope that is the end of it all.
Thank you everyone.  :love: