Lloyds Bank Causing Heartbreak to Widow of Missing Person
The failure of Lloyds TSB to respond to requests for information about the accounts of a missing person may result in his wife being evicted from her home.
Kevin Simpson, 53, went missing from his home near Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales on 3rd November 2014. On an ordinary Monday morning, instead of driving to work, he drove to a local beauty spot where his car was found abandoned later by police. No one has seen or heard of Kevin since that morning and his wife has had to reach the heartbreaking conclusion that he either slipped and fell to his death on the cliffs or committed suicide.
Nicky Simpson, 49, is Kevin’s wife. The couple had been married for 20 years had no children. She is not able to work as she suffers from ill health, so they relied on Kevin’s salary as an assistant manager of an estate agency. The couple kept horses and dogs – Kevin was a well known local Parelli horseman, who spent all of his spare time learning and training Parelli techniques – a particular style of training in relation to horses.
Since her husband’s disappearance Nicky has struggled financially. With no wage coming in from Kevin and with a mortgage to pay, she received legal advice from the charity Missing People and then from specialist solicitor Sarah Young of Ridley & Hall Solicitors in Huddersfield who has developed a niche practice in helping families of missing people. Sarah Young recommended that Nicky should make an application under the Presumption of Death Act 2013. This Act became law in England and Wales on 1st October 2014.
“The police believe that the evidence indicates that Kevin died on the morning of Monday 3rd November and in my opinion it’s likely that an order of presumed death would be made by a judge. This would enable Nicky to obtain a grant of probate and sort out Kevin’s affairs on the basis that he has died,” commented Mrs Young.
No death certificate can be issued in the absence of a body, which is why the Presumption of Death Act was enacted. Once a missing person is presumed to have died, their legal and financial affairs can be resolved if an order is made by a judge, who examines all the available evidence about the disappearance.
However in this case, no application can be made until Lloyds TSB co-operate with Nicky Simpson’s solicitor:
Sarah Young went on further to say, “Because no salary is being paid into Kevin’s bank account, it has been drained by direct debits. Lloyds TSB, despite being advised of his disappearance, continue to write to him on a regular basis about the lack of funds in his accounts. On two occasions they have transferred money over from his savers account to his current account and wrote to Kevin to say that they had done so. The police have queried a third transfer in the sum of £2,518.86 on the 6th March 2015 but have received no reply from the bank. Although the police have no evidence to believe that Kevin is alive and strongly suspect that this third transaction was another ‘inter bank’ transfer, Lloyds have refused to either confirm or deny this to the police or to me. In the circumstances the police say that they cannot support an application for a presumed death certificate.”
Nicky Simpson is at her wits’ end. Her home is in her husband’s sole name and for almost a year the mortgage has been unpaid. It is likely that the mortgage company will shortly start repossession proceedings to evict her.
At the moment there are no guardianship provisions in force. These would allow a close family member to look after the affairs of the missing person, in the hope that they may return one day, or when there is insufficient evidence that they can be presumed dead. Nicky Simpson, as well as trying to come to terms with her husband’s disappearance is now facing the deeply stressful possibility that she will be evicted from the home where she has all the happy memories of her life together with her husband.
Sarah Young is frustrated with Lloyds; “I appreciate that this is an unusual situation and that banks may be hamstrung by the Data Protection Act and their own internal processes. I’ve tried my very best to explain the situation to Lloyds Bank but unless someone senior can have a look at this case and help to resolve this log jam, my client is really going to suffer financially and emotionally.”
She adds, “This case highlights the need to bring into law the guardianship proposals that have been put forward by the charity Missing People. The government has said that it will progress those proposals at some point – but they are needed now. If Lloyds Bank continue to ignore my pleas then I will have to go to court to seek a production order – but my client has no money to pay for an order and it could be expensive and time consuming to do this. I’m not sure that she has that time.”