Your legal questions answered by Fahmida Ismail, Partner at Sydney Mitchell LLP. As featured in Worcester News, 9th December 2014.


Q. My son was separated from his wife for ten years. Six months ago he died unexpectedly at the age of 42, at which point his wife threw everything into skips and sold the house for just £90,000. My son’s 14-year-old daughter from his first marriage was also turfed out and got nothing. How can this be right?

A. Under the rules for people who die without making wills the first £250,000 of an estate goes outright to the deceased’s spouse, and the remainder is split between the spouse and any children. However your granddaughter can make a claim on the estate as a dependant of the deceased. She must do this within six months of the grant of letters of administration. She will be entitled to free legal help and should obtain expert legal advice as quickly as possible. 


Q. I am in my late 50’s and receive income support and incapacity benefit. I am due to receive compensation for a bad fall I had on a footpath last year. Will I be able to keep the money or will some of it go to the Department for Work and Pensions? 

A. If you have received additional benefits as a direct result of your accident this money will be repaid to the state by whoever is providing you with compensation. However any compensation you receive for other reasons, such as pain and suffering, cannot be reduced. The capital you receive will be taken into account in assessing your eligibility for means-tested benefits; if this is likely to mean that you would not be eligible for such benefits, you should consider a personal injury trust. Discuss this with whoever is acting for you in your claim.


Q. I bought a house many years ago, and in order to pay off the mortgage quickly I went to work abroad. I gave my wife power of attorney to manage my affairs in my absence. Now my wife is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and I would like to revoke the power of attorney. How would I do this?

A. An ordinary power of attorney can be revoked at any time by notifying the attorney to that effect, for example by letter. However you will also need to notify the relevant financial institutions of its revocation, and it’s possible you will need to see a solicitor to draw up a deed of revocation for this purpose. If you have a Lasting Power of Attorney the procedure is different.


For further information on any of the issues raised, please contact Fahmida Ismail on 0121 698 2200 or fill in our online enquiry form.

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