Case update - Daughter inheritance used for cats

Marlene Howes, aged 67, has been cleared of charges of benefit fraud, after the court accepted that the £84,000 inheritance she received from her Mum was spent entirely on cats.

Mrs Howes took in her mother's cats to live with the 25 cats she owned herself, and claimed her mother had advised her that the inheritance she would leave in her in her Will was to be used exclusively for their care and pampering. The Will did not expressly mention this wish on behalf of the mother, but Mrs Howes said it was communicated to her verbally, and upon receiving the inheritance money opened up an account used solely for the care of the cats.

The court found that Mrs Howes had spent £30,000 on vet bills alone, with other money spent of food and litter. There was a £4,600 payment made in respect of adding a conservatory to the house but the court accepted Mrs Howes explanation that this was added to give the cats more room. Judge Bopa-Rai did not consider that the inheritance was concealed so she could claim £22,000 in pension credits and council tax benefits over a 6 year period, and described her being "credible" and that she wasn't "dishonest".

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