Probate saga...

I mistakenly assumed my mid-March 2015 hobby (gathering-in, and closing-down, and disbursing dear Mama's estate as laid out in her Will) would be strictly a temporary "duty" of mine as one of her two appointed Executors. And would by now1 be merely a dusty footnote in my family's history. After all, I've long since done all the things described here. My brother John down in NZ is happy to be driving around in a new vehicle of some sort having spent a portion of his share of the loot. As I have been doing in my beautiful baby Mazda2 since the end of July. All thanks to dear Mama.

Seven months later...

... it has become abundantly clear that our splendid Department of Work and Pensions hasn't quite finished with dear Mama. They sent me a letter in mid-October 2015 telling me they were quite taken aback to learn that she had died in a care-home as they had been unaware that she had been in a care-home. And would I be kind enough now, please, to tell them exactly when she had started "living" in said home? Mea culpa. Somehow, I had never quite got around to telling them. I had eventually given them my address to use for her after the Post Office snailmail re-direction from her former Wombourne house timed out, but that was obviously just for my convenience. (My mistake, I belatedly realise.)

Mind you, the dear ol' thing had long been unable to read and understand any of her incoming correspondence, let alone reply to it, so it struck me as utterly pointless to trouble her with it. That was, after all, precisely the reason she had given me her long-lasting Power of Attorney.

Guess what? It turns out the ol' lady was being paid an Attendance Allowance (AA) benefit on top of her State Pension. That I did not realise. And as far as I can deduce from their garbled correspondence, this is what the DWP is now still concerned about. More concerned than I am, if the information I've obtained from the Age UK charity is correct...

Whether or not you can receive AA in a care home depends on how the fees 
are being met. If you are paying the full charges in a care home, with or 
without the help of benefits like Pension Credit, you can claim and receive 
AA provided you fulfil the other conditions for it. You can also get AA if 
you are self-funding apart from contributions from the NHS towards nursing 
care payments.

... as it precisely described her situation throughout the last four-plus years of her so-called life there. Her eligibility for this AA had been assessed and established before I even registered my Power of Attorney to assist her health and financial decision-making. She was certainly entirely self-funding, too. This I know because I was the one who kept topping up her current account 13 times each year from her diminishing savings to make sure the care-home's invoices were all paid on time.

The DWP made two State pension payments to her after her death in March before they managed to stop further payments. I repaid these just as soon as they politely asked for them back (about a week ago!). I had already allowed for them in my Estate summary for Probate. But I take great exception to any later attempt2 by the State to reclaim legitimately-paid benefits.

Rewind to mid-2010

She was being paid this AA as an agreed and assessed entitlement that Social Services in Wombourne had set up for her. This was part of their process while trying to establish whether or not she was still capable of living in her Wombourne house. And this was in the wake of her disorienting five-week stay in hospital (after the nasty fall that had set in motion this final phase of her life). Her GP up there told me that he had, in fact, been seriously considering moving her from hospital straight into a care-home somewhere near Wombourne.

When I eventually started seeing her bank statements, Barclays merely showed a one-line "DWP SP" figure. I never realised there was an AA component folded into it. Be that as it may, the splendid DWP has managed to conclude that I must have been the care-home manager and have just (October 2015) sent me a multi-page form to fill in all sorts of details about this mythical care-home I manage. I have returned, not the form, but a polite, firm, description of the reality of what had been dear Mama's situation to them. I can scarcely wait to see what they come up with next.

June 2016 update

I'm still waiting to hear anything. But I'm starting to think perhaps my version of "reality" has actually prevailed, for once. That would be nice! Meanwhile, ironically, another bit of the DWP has just sent me the first batch of information about claiming my own State Pension (which kicks in, at age 65, in October 2016).


1  "Now" being nearly the end of October 2015, over seven months since she shuffled off her mortal coil and joined the Choir Invisible.
2  If that is what this fishing expedition is about.