Very sadly my ex-husband has passed away (married nearly 20 yrs, divorced 6yrs ago). We have a 14 year old daughter. We did not speak at all and my ex husband tried every which way to reduce maintenance payments for our daughter. He went through the loop hole of giving up his high paying salary, working as a consultant via his friends Ltd company. They provided him with an employment contract to not only avoid tax but also to significantly reduce child maintenance payments. He was not a director or shareholder of any company in the UK. He did not receive dividends as there is no tax record of this. Therefore, my assumption is that he kept the money within an off-shore company (his friends reside in Sweden) or some other method, but he had a rolling total left in the company as my daughter saw some of his accounts, no company name though. He had brought land and built a large house without a mortgage, had 8 pensions (some of which were significant) and I did not take half of these when we divorced. I am not sure of the status of these pensions now, there may be more or he may have cashed some in. He has not remarried and does not have a partner. He has two older children from a previous marriage who are in their 30's. Although we are on speaking terms, the rest of the family do not speak with me and my ex-husband hated me with a passion. He has now passed away and I of course will no longer receive any child maintenance. However, I'm on a low salary and the maintenance helped in providing for our daughter. Now I'm very concerned that there will not have been provision made for her if he passed away (as an example of how he was, he made me pay via the CMS for half his taxi fares to collect our daughter when he was banned for drink driving and quibbled over £5 on her dinner money when she called him once as she wanted something from the school canteen and I was in a meeting and couldn't reply, wanting the £5 back for her lunch, so I have no doubt that this provision is not there.
My query is what happens now? The older siblings are unable to find a will, although we know he made one. All contact has been made with friends and family, even to those who he verbally requested be executors (he didn't tell them where the will was or who the solicitors were) to find out if they know where it is etc.
They are currently going to attempt to pool his assets (how I don't know when they probably do not have any idea where he has kept his finances) and they will split it equally between them, putting my daughters part in trust for when she's 25. This is all OK with me, but I'm worried about provisions for her upto her 18th when her full time education finishes. Is there any guidance on this at all?
As your daughter is a minor and you were in receipt of funds from him, she and potentially you shoukd be able to claim dependents benefits from his pension. If you still have details of the pension schemes from your divorce, you can write to the trustees to check. In my ex husband's case the children were able to receive a pension until 23 as long as they were in education.
In terms of the estate, if no valid will can be found, the laws of intestacy will apply.
To add to what others have said it would be usual for the trustees to be able to pay money from the trust for the benefit of your daughter until she reaches the age that she is allowed to take control of it.
Good starting points to find a Will would be the Central Probate Registry and the solicitors firm that he used, if any, in any divorce proceedings.
Thank you very much for your guidance and advice re. pensions. I think I should be able to find some of the pension information from our divorce 6 years ago. However, I'm also keenly aware that he may have cashed in some of the big pensions and put this into property. I wouldn't know if he also had other pensions since we divorced as he was able to hide all of his finances very well.
As his children cannot find a will (and there is no details of a solicitor) this is going to prove difficult - I have sent them the certainty.co.uk link but will also mention the central probate registry. They haven't been able to obtain probate as yet as they are trying to find all his financial details - without a forensic accountant his older children will not be able to find everything. So what would happen in this instance?
The older children are currently saying that the pooling of all financials will be split equally between the 3 of them and then put in trust for my daughter until she turns 25. How would this work if I need to support her on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Would it be from her trust that the money comes or from the complete funding before they split it? I don't even know how I'd go about broaching this subject with them. It's all so awful and to then discuss money is horrendous - but I'm worried sick and need to support my daughter in the years ahead until she finishes her education. It's a horrible time considering we are all reeling from shock at his passing and managing my young daughter who is totally heartbroken.
I've also just realised the the divorce consent order states the following paragraph. Does this mean I'm unable to apply for provision for my dependent daughter, or does this relate to me applying for myself for provisions. I wasn't very well advised and basically had to represent myself in all this so I'm not sure if this now means I can't apply on my daughters behalf from the estate or pension.
'Neither the applicant nor the respondent shall be entitled on the death of the other to apply for an order for provision out of the others estate.'
That clause only applies to you. Your daughter is a blood relative and entitled to a share of the estate under the rules of interstate. I am not sure whether the other beneficiaries have the power to set up a trust just for your child. You would need to speak to a specialist in wills and inheritance.