My father passed away in August last year and all the money due to the estate has been collected, with the exception of £56,986 from a Clerical Medical endowment savings bond.
Until the proceeds are received, I, as executor, cannot wind up the estate. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.
DP, Ilkley, West Yorkshire
‘Unacceptable’: A reader was still waiting for Clerical Medical to pay out on her late father’s savings bond more than six months after his death
Sally Hamilton replies: How frustrating that it has taken so long to arrange the last piece of the jigsaw needed to finalise your father’s estate.
Paying out the proceeds of this endowment policy should not be complicated.
It is a fixed-term savings plan, with an element of life insurance. It should be a fairly routine process for the life insurers that sold the policy to arrange a payout on death.
Endowment policies work by savers making regular contributions to the plan, and then at the end of a chosen fixed term (usually between ten and 25 years) they are paid a lump sum. Its size will depend on stock market performance.
If savers die during the term, as your father did, the policy guarantees a minimum lump sum payment.
I gave Clerical Medical, which is part of the Lloyds Banking Group, a prod on your behalf.
I am pleased to say, within days, the £56,986 proceeds were sent to you, along with an extra £926, including £500 as an apology for the ‘unacceptable’ level of service and the rest interest covering the delay.
I am less than thrilled to report that a few days later, I had to intervene again, on behalf of another reader — G.H., from Bromley, Kent — who had been waiting far too long to receive an £18,000 payout from the Clerical Medical endowment policy she took out 30 years ago. It was designed to pay her interest-only mortgage at maturity.
She had managed to repay the mortgage in full in 1999 but had kept the endowment arrangement going as a savings plan.
Beware of fake emails purporting to be from energy watchdog Ofgem.
Action Fraud warned last week it had received 752 reports of scammers posing as the regulator in just four days. The emails claim that customers are eligible for a rebate as a result of a newly announced government scheme.
They include a link which then directs anyone who clicks on it to a fraudulent website designed to steal their personal details.
Banks and organisations such as Ofgem will never ask you to share this type of information over email or text.
If you have doubts about a message, ring or write to the company directly by using contact details on their website or any official paperwork it may have sent you.
But when the policy matured in January, Clerical Medical had her chasing NatWest to provide confirmation that the mortgage had been redeemed — a fact already confirmed by NatWest in writing in January 1999 (she has a copy of this document to prove it).
Despite this, her payment did not materialise and letters she wrote to various high-ranking executives at Lloyds Banking went unanswered. Even her financial adviser could not make headway with the firm.
Fed up with four months of chasing (during which time she had to halt work on her house as she had earmarked the policy proceeds for paying the tradesmen), she turned to me for help.
It’s just as well her mortgage had been paid off, as I can’t imagine a lender waiting so patiently to have a debt of this size repaid.
Anyway, once I got in touch with the company, the matter was quickly resolved and her £18,000 was released.
A Lloyds Banking spokesman said: ‘We’re sorry for the delay G.H. has experienced in processing her endowment policy.
‘We have made contact to say sorry and confirm the policy amount has been paid.’
The company added £300 as an apology, plus £288 in interest.
It seems to me Clerical Medical’s systems and customer service need some serious, clinical attention. I asked what was going wrong and what it was doing to cure the problem.
A spokesman says: ‘We are sorry for the delays some customers have experienced. The levels of service have fallen short of our normal standards.
‘We’re working hard to improve this by recruiting and training more customer service staff, investing in our systems and simplifying our processes and procedures.’
Let’s hope this treatment works — and quickly.
DWP won’t return son’s £482 overpayment
Please can you help me recover a duplicate repayment of Jobseeker’s Allowance made to the Department for Work and Pensions.
My son received an overpayment of £482 because he applied for it, before realising he had been furloughed and did not need this benefit.
He received letters about returning the money but he has dyslexia, so letters and forms are a problem for him. I said I would deal with it and so posted a cheque to cover the overpayment to an office in Wolverhampton.
Unfortunately, in the same week my son received yet another demand for the repayment and, in a panic, thinking I hadn’t paid it, he contacted the DWP and paid the money by phone. This left him very short of money.
The payments were made in early September 2021. Nearly nine months later and we have got nowhere, even after registering a complaint and sending many letters to the DWP, including one with evidence that my cheque was cashed on September 9.
D. D., Ayr.
Sally Hamilton replies: My inbox is awash with emails from readers who are owed money by a government department but are getting nowhere chasing the repayments on their own.
For the Department for Work and Pensions to be sitting on your cash for nine months is totally absurd.
You told me you worked as a civil servant for the department for 30 years and never encountered such poor service in all that time and suspect that the working-from-home arrangement has contributed to the blockage.
I asked the department to live up to its name and get to work on your complaint.
This was on a Monday and by the following Friday it had arranged for your son’s money to be returned.
A DWP spokesman admitted an error — although did not explain what this was. I suspect there to be more than one.
However, he apologised for the distress and inconvenience caused to you and your son.
When I rang your home to check the £482 had been returned, your husband was delighted to confirm that it was in your son’s bank account and that you were letting him keep it to put towards his wedding in June.
As a result, the occasion should be an even happier one than anticipated.
Straight to the point
I am being bombarded with spam emails that appear to be from a firm called Shutterstock.
Most claim I have won prizes and discounts. Apparently I have to log on to my account, which I don’t have, to adjust my subscription settings?
C. P., via email.
Shutterstock did not respond to emails, so I resorted to contacting the firm on Twitter.
Someone eventually confirmed that the emails you received were not sent by Shutterstock. Do not click on any links and block the sender’s email address.
My insurer is insisting it did not receive a £67.44 cheque I posted to renew my television cover. I have been with Domestic & General for years, so why is it messing me around now?
G. W., Cardiff.
A Domestic & General spokesman apologises and admits that an error meant your policy was not renewed even after it received your payment.
It has rectified this by renewing your cover, refunding the £67.44 premium and sending you an additional £50 as a goodwill gesture.
I ordered £3.07 of food at Barnstaple McDonald’s drive-thru. I was told my card payment hadn’t gone through, so I left and bought a sandwich at Tesco.
But when I checked, I saw the money had been taken.
R. D., Ilfracombe, Devon.
Shortly after I contacted McDonald’s you received a call from the Barnstaple branch.
You were told that if you call in, the money will be refunded to your card and you will be offered a free meal.
- Write to Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email email@example.com — include phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Sally Hamilton. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given.