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Assessing available funds from the deceased's estate

The amount the applicant gets paid can depend on how much money was left in the estate of the person who died.

This includes any money that the person who died arranged to be paid to a nominated person. For example, from a pension or insurance policy.

The applicant is responsible for finding out the value of the funds available.

The Funeral Support Payment amount will be reduced if the person who died has any accessible money that is available to be used towards the costs of the funeral. This is because funeral costs have a special legal status as a ‘priority debt’ and this money will help pay towards the costs of the funeral first. If the amount from the deceased’s accessible and available money is enough to cover all of the funeral costs, then the applicant will not be able to get Funeral Support Payment.

Accessible money belonging to the person who died can include:

  • cash or money in bank accounts, if it is available without confirmation being obtained
  • money due from insurance policies
  • money due from pensions or burial clubs

In Scotland ‘confirmation’ is the legal document which gives the executor the right to make and receive payments due by the estate. Clients can apply for confirmation by making an application with the sheriff court. Confirmation may not be needed for some small estates and some organisations may release the deceased’s money on the evidence of a death certificate alone. Elsewhere in the United Kingdom, ‘probate’ or ‘letters of administration’ are equivalents to the Scottish ‘confirmation‘.

If the person who died was under 18, then we do not take into account any assets or funds that they had. In this instance, we should not ask the client about any assets or funds. If this information has been given we should ignore it when calculating the client’s payment.

How to assess funds

In the application form, we ask if the person who died had:

  • money in bank accounts
  • cash
  • an occupational pension
  • an insurance policy
  • a burial club
  • a funeral grant paid out because the person who died was receiving war pension

The funds would only be considered relevant to the assessment of the Funeral Support Payment amount, if they pay out a lump sum, which can be used towards the funeral costs. All of the above need to be accessible to the applicant and also available to be used towards the costs of the funeral.

If the applicant answers ‘yes’ to any of the above, they’ll be prompted to provide amounts in the application.

Requesting evidence

Applicant self-declaration is acceptable here, however client advisers should be mindful of the applicant’s requests for costs of additional death certificates.

We’ll only pay for an additional death certificate if it is being used to release funds. Therefore, where an applicant requests additional death certificate costs, we would expect the applicant to provide details of one or more funds of the deceased.

Benefit arrears paid to the person who died

If the funds in the person who died's bank account were paid as benefit arrears, do not take these into account when assessing available funds.

Benefit arrears for this purpose means any UK social security payments made after the date of death. This includes:

  • Social Security Scotland benefits
  • Department for Work and Pensions benefits
  • HM Revenue and Customs tax credits
  • Department for Communities (Northern Ireland) benefits
  • other benefits or tax credits paid by UK agencies

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