Case study: Renee

Getting an inheritance while bankrupt

Renee is a 52-year-old mother and grandmother from Newcastle, New South Wales. She works in an aged care home and earns about $35,000 a year.

After her divorce in 2013, Renee struggled with the increased cost-of-living expenses. More than 30% of her income went to renting her home.

She had to borrow money to pay for everyday expenses, and owed $15,000 to a range of creditors – banks, lawyers and utilities. She didn’t own any assets that could be sold to cover her debts.

In mid-2016, Renee became bankrupt. Her trustee is the Official Trustee (AFSA).

In late 2017, Renee’s mother passed away. The executor of her mother’s will told Renee she was due to receive an inheritance of $45,000. Renee let AFSA know, as she knew she needed to report any money or assets she got while she was bankrupt.

AFSA contacted the executor and told them they needed to pay the inheritance directly to AFSA.

AFSA used the money to pay a government levy, its fees for administering the bankruptcy, plus Renee’s debts and interest*. Altogether this totalled about $31,500.

Once everything was paid in full, Renee’s bankruptcy was annulled – which meant the bankruptcy finished early. Renee received the remaining $13,500 from her inheritance.

*There were no legal costs or other fees involved in this situation. If there were, the cost to annul the bankruptcy would be higher.

*These case studies do not constitute legal or financial advice. You should consider whether the options referred to in the case studies are appropriate for you, and seek advice if necessary, before taking any action.