Greenhalgh Kerr: Specialist Debt Recovery From Deceased Estates For Local Authorities

Image: Ricardo Gomez Angel/ripato/Unsplash
Image: Ricardo Gomez Angel/ripato/Unsplash

Our specialist enforcement of recovery from deceased debtors assisted a local authority with a debt for unpaid adult social care costs, following the death of a care home resident.

The resident was known to have owned property inherited from his late wife. The resident had not entered into a deferred payment arrangement in their lifetime which would have secured the care costs against the property.

The resident’s surviving relatives had failed to administer the estate and consequently the care costs accrued by the resident had not been paid.

We contacted the resident’s son who suggested the Will bequeathed the property to the deceased’s sister. He also disputed the charges as the resident believed the council had funded the care.

Negotiations with the son were unsuccessful and a County Court claim was commenced against the estate to recover care charges, interest, and costs. Because the resident’s relatives had not extracted a grant of probate – nor did they agree to represent the estate in the proceedings – we successfully applied to the court to appoint two independent solicitors to represent the estate in the proceedings, to comply with the Civil Procedure Rules.

The representatives of the estate filed an admission of the estate’s liability to repay the debt and a judgment against the estate was obtained. Steps were then taken to enforce the judgment against the estate by a charge against the property. Independent representatives were re-appointed to represent the estate in the further proceedings. Interim and final charging orders were obtained against the resident’s equitable interest in the property.

During the enforcement proceedings, HM Land Registry had issued cancellation of an application to register an interim charging order obtained against another named estate of a deceased debtor. The reason for the cancellation was the estate not being a named person – on their death, their estate had vested in their personal representatives.
HM Land Registry’s cancellation notice stated that the court-ordered charge had to refer to the personal representative of an estate under a grant of representation, issued by a Court in England and Wales.

Consequently, with the agreement of the solicitors who represented the estate in the claim, a consent application was made to vary the title of the resident’s estate on the final charging order, to cite themselves as the personal representatives of the estate on the order itself.

An application to register the varied charging order has been registered and accepted with HM Land Registry, the council consequently has security for the debt. Whereas the independent representatives do not have the authority to administer the estate, the unique approach taken by Greenhalgh Kerr has ensured that the debt owed to the council is secured and will be repaid on any future sale of the property either as part of the administration of the estate, or by an order of the court.

For initial guidance on a deceased estate debt to a local authority, please contact Nicky Kinnear, Associate Solicitor at Greenhalgh Kerr.

Tel: 0333 200 5223

Nicky Kinnear May 2022

Greenhalgh Kerr
Olympic House, Beecham Court,
Smithy Brook Rd,
Wigan WN3 6PR

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+44 (0)333 200 5200

We are confident in our work and we know that recoveries is a key part of a lender or creditor’s business

We are confident in our work and we know that recoveries is a key part of a lender or creditor’s business. We have designed our pilot projects to give lenders and creditors the comfort and confidence in our service before formally and fully switching recoveries providers. This time also allows new clients to benchmark our service levers and results against existing providers and others.

How it works


You choose 10 recoveries cases

You choose 10 recoveries cases to get us started. We’ll deliver our usual onboarding protocol where we’ll get to know you and your systems, culture, methods, preferences, and requirements.


We get started

We assess each case by setting a strategy then grading and reporting on the case in terms of prospects and timescales and cost. We make immediate contact with debtors, and pursue a recovery in our tried and tested ways.


We review

We deliver ongoing, structured, tailored reports as per your needs and carry out a full 3-month review on these 20 cases. There we’ll discuss how we have worked together, patterns we have seen in your borrowers, your systems, your documents, your pre-legal conduct, outcomes, highs and lows, legal costs (and costs borne by debtors), and possible improvements in all of these.


No strings

We carry on working in this way until all cases have been concluded. You are then free to carry on your discussions with us or to use the experience and market intelligence gained by working with us in the future.

Lenders and creditors have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by engaging with us on a pilot project.