Belfast Telegraph

Clare Louise's father died six years ago, so when a £4,000 debt demand accompanied by a legal warning landed in the mail and upset her mum, she replied by sending a photo of his grave

By Donna Deeney

The daughter of a man who died six years ago has spoken of her shock at receiving a solicitor's letter addressed to him warning that court action will be taken to recover a £4,000 debt.

The letter stated that unless the money was paid the company would take action to obtain a court order forcing the sale of the family home.

But Clare Louise Quilty replied in withering style, informing the firm that her dad Larry no longer lived at the address on the envelope.

She explained: "I had been home just two weeks before the letter arrived and had a picture of me at my father's graveside.

"I replied back to the letter and told them that my father no longer lived at the address on the letter, but resided full-time at the cemetery, and attached the picture of me at his graveside for verification.

"Thankfully, that did the trick and my mother is now a lot more settled, but although I took a tongue in cheek approach, I am still quite cross that after six years of hearing nothing about this debt daddy owed, such a cruel and threatening letter arrived in the post."

The letter from a legal firm representing a company Larry owed the money to was addressed to him but was opened by her mother, who lives alone in the Londonderry family home.

Clare Louise, like the rest of the family, only found out about her father's debt when her mother rang her in a very distressed state.

Speaking to the North West Telegraph, Clare Louise, who now lives in Luton, wants other people, especially elderly people who receive debt collection letters, not to be intimidated.

She said: "My father died six years ago so my mother was very surprised when an official-looking letter arrived at our family home addressed to him.

"She got such a shock when she realised it was a letter from a solicitor threatening court action to force the sale of our family home if the money he owed wasn't paid.

"My mother lives alone in our family home and, like the rest of us, she had no idea my father died owing money.

"I tried to reassure my mother as best I could, but she is of the generation that was brought up thinking a solicitor's letter was gospel and she was convinced she was going to end up homeless."

Independent counselling network Advice NI said that if the debt was in Ms Quilty's late father's sole name, it is likely that it would have died with him.

Only if debts are in joint names could they be passed on in this way, a spokeswoman said. She also said that, in any event, a six-year-old debt was likely to be "statute-barred". She advised anyone who received a demand concerning a debt incurred by someone who has died to contact Advice NI for free confidential help and guidance.

More information is available from Advice NI on 028 90 645919 or at

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