A reader asked:
I want to give £4,000 each to my children – it’s money from their nan who would have wanted them to have it. But one daughter started a DRO a few months ago. I think she would have this money taken away so should I buy her a car instead? Things are difficult for her as she gets no child maintenance.
What happens if you give her cash?
If you give her the money now, she wouldn’t have it taken away. A Debt Relief Order (DRO) isn’t like bankruptcy or an IVA where if someone gets a large windfall they lose it.
But her DRO would be cancelled (the legal term for that is “revoked”) if you give her that much. See What happens to a DRO if you get some more money for details.
If her DRO is cancelled, she still has the money but also all her previous debts. She could use the money to settle some of the debts – with full and final settlements she may well be able to clear a lot more than £4,000 of debt, but perhaps not all her debts, it depends on how large they are. But the DRO will stay on her credit record for the next six years anyway.
Your other option is to give her most of the money after her DRO has finished and her debts have been wiped out. You could say give her £500 now for immediate needs and the rest when the DRO ends. A present of £500 wouldn’t affect her DRO, though she should report it to the Official Receiver.
Giving a car – it depends on how you do it
If you give her a car, then much the same would apply as giving her cash. It is one of the conditions of starting a DRO that any car has to be worth under £1,000 so by getting a more expensive car in the middle of her DRO is it very likely to be cancelled.
There is a way around this – you can buy the car and let her drive it. She could be the registered keeper, have the insurance in her name etc, but legally you would still be the “beneficial owner” of the car, so this wouldn’t affect her DRO. If you do this, I suggest you confirm this in writing by sending her a letter or email saying you are happy for her drive your car for as long as she needs it, but could she return it to you if it ever isn’t wanted.
If you are going to do this, make sure she can afford to run the car. You may think that a car would make her life a lot easier, but if she is struggling for money now, the insurance, MOT, parking costs all need to be thought of, it’s not just the petrol.
Talk to your daughter!
You need to make sure this is a nice surprise for her, not one that causes her any problems. I think you have to talk to her about it.
Personally, I don’t think giving her the money now and having her DRO cancelled is a good choice. Waiting until the DRO has completed could make so much more difference to her family over the next few years. But some people hate the idea of not paying their debts, so it’s possible she could prefer to have her DRO cancelled and settle her debts. This isn’t my call and it really shouldn’t be your call either…
And if you are thinking of a car instead, she needs to think about the costs before saying Yes.