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My Last Will and Testament
When you’re set to receive any amount of inheritance, you may be wondering what you should do with the money. Whether it’s £1,000.00, £100,000.00 or a million pounds, it’s important to make sure that, whatever you do, if you are in receipt of benefits or financial assistance, you notify the issuing-department of your new-found funds. 
 
For example, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) must be notified of any change in your circumstances, including money, your work, or your home life. This is referred to by the DWP as a ‘change of circumstances’. 
 
You must contact the DWP, regardless of whether you have already notified another Government Department (for example, HMRC). 

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Citizens Advice recommends that you report any changes in writing, so that you have a copy of the letter, and provide the DWP with any evidence they may need. For example, as your local solicitors for Probate, we would provide any beneficiaries of an estate (whether it be a pecuniary legacy or the remainder of the deceased’s estate) with confirmation in writing of what they are due to receive from the estate. You may provide a copy of this to the DWP, as proof of your entitlement. Alternatively, you could provide them with a copy of the Will or the estate accounts, if you are entitled to these documents. 
 
They also recommend writing ‘change of circumstances’ at the top of your letter, as well as providing as much information as possible about the change. One example, if you had no savings before you received your inheritance, you may wish to provide the DWP with details of the amount your will receive, as well as confirmation of what benefits you currently receive, and when you expect to get the full, or even part of, the amount. 
 
When you send the letter, you may wish to consider making sure it’s sent Royal Mail Signed For, or another form of tracked delivery, so that you can prove when it was posted, and received. Who the letter will need to be sent to will depend what kind of benefits you receive. You can find out the full contact information from www.gov.uk, here. 
 
If you cannot write to the DWP, you could contact them by phone. 
 
Changes in your circumstances must be reported as soon as you are aware of them, however, the maximum length of time you should take is a month. If you don’t manage to report the change in this timeframe, you should still report the change; better to report it late than never. 
 
In the event that, due to the change, you are entitled to less money than you were before, you can expect to have to reimburse the over-paid funds to the relevant department. 
 
After you have notified the DWP (or other department) of the changes, they will write to you if they require any further information, as well as when you need to send it by. 
 
Once the DWP have all the information they need, they should write to you to confirm whether your benefits have been affected by your changed circumstances. Make sure that all the information they outline in their letter is correct: if it’s not, contact them again to provide the correct information. If you don’t hear from the DWP at all, contact them again to make sure they have received your initial letter. 
 
Our local solicitors for Probate would explain that if you don’t notify the DWP, or other department, of the money you are due to receive, you could be accused of intentionally withholding the information from them, and you could therefore be prosecuted for fraud. 
 
In one such recent case, a man was fined for failing to declare £40,000.00 received following his dad’s death from asbestos-related cancer. Mr Davies denied the charges; however he was found guilty at Teesside Magistrates’ Court, leading to fines of over £700.00 (as he had already paid back some of the overpaid funds, and had set up payment plans in relation to the others). 
 
So, don’t hesitate: notify the DWP (or other department) of any change in your circumstances immediately. 

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