Thursday, 5 March 2020

Questions (72)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

72. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding credit unions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2613/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Further to parliamentary question numbers 48 of 14 November and 126 of 19 November 2019, I would like to reiterate that it would not be appropriate for me to make a comment on a specific case. It is also important to note that the Probate Office of the High Court deals with matters relating to probate and as such is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice and Equality.

However, the Deputy may also wish to note that under section 21 of the 1997 Act, a credit union member may nominate a third party (e.g. a family member) to be the recipient upon the death of the member to the whole or part of the member’s property that they have in the credit union at the time of their death.

The 1997 Act imposes a statutory limit of €23,000 on the amount that can be passed by way of a nomination. Thus, if at the date of the nominator's death the amount of the member’s property in the credit union exceeds €23,000, the credit union may only dispose any property up to the value of €23,000. The effect of these provisions are that any nomination up to €23,000 will pass outside the terms of any will. Any sum in excess of this will revert to and be an asset of the estate, which needs to be distributed under the terms of the will or the rules of succession where there is no will.

The Central Bank have also advised me that in order to be registered a credit union must have a set of rules. Under section 15 of the Credit Union Act, 1997 the registered rules of a credit union bind all members. In some cases these rules specifically set out the credit union's approach to the nomination of property and the statutory limit under the 1997 Act.

The Deputy may also wish to note that Section 23 of the Credit Union Act 1997 as amended (1997 Act) provides for the provision of small payments on death. Under section 23 if a member of a credit union dies and, at his death, his property in the credit union does not in the whole exceed €15,000 and is not the subject of a nomination under section 21 the board of directors of the credit union may, without letters of administration or probate of any will, distribute that property among such persons as appears to the board (on such evidence as they consider satisfactory) to be entitled by law to receive it.

Ordinarily the production of a grant of probate would be required to release funds from a bank account to the personal representative, irrespective of the amount. However, if a person dies leaving small amounts of money in a bank, the bank may agree to release the funds without the necessity for a grant of probate.

While most applicants instruct a solicitor to process their application for a grant of probate, personal applications can also be made to the Probate Office of the High Court for a grant of probate.

If an individual is not satisfied in any of their dealings with a financial services provider the individual may make a complaint to the provider’s internal complaint resolution process. If they are not satisfied with the outcome of the complaint, they can then make a complaint to the independent Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman. Investigations by the Ombudsman are free of charge to the complainant. Further information on the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman can be found at www.fspo.ie.

Furthermore, the Central Bank have informed me that while they cannot comment on individual cases, where a person has good reason to believe that a firm regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland,  or an individual within such a firm, is involved in wrongdoing within an area it regulates, they can report it to the Central Bank. In accordance with Section 33AK of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended), the Central Bank cannot disclose the details of any action that it might take on foot of information provided to it.