A GRIEVING brother and sister are locked in a council tax battle after their mother’s death.

Valerie Bixby died suddenly in June, after a battle with cancer.

Her property in Marine Parade, Mayland, remained vacant after her death. However, Maldon District Council has claimed a total of £1,376.27 in council tax for the home.

Ms Bixby’s son Glenn and daughter Charlotte Law have since pursued action to claim back the cash they believe was incorrectly taken.

Mrs Law, 25, said: “When a family member dies you are allowed six months’ exemption from paying council tax.

“I’ve been feeling very stressed out and let down.

“This situation is elongating the grieving process.”

The property was sold within six months of Ms Bixby’s death.

But the council said that because Ms Bixby had bequeathed her Mayland home to her children, they had taken ownership of the property.

The council says that made the family liable for paying council tax on the home before it was sold.

A letter from the family’s solicitors to the council says: “We simply do not understand how you (Maldon District Council) have come to the clearly incorrect conclusion that the beneficiaries named within the will had a material interest in the property during the period between the death of Ms Bixby and its eventual sale.”

The family says the saga has been very upsetting.

Mrs Law said they are fighting not because of the money, but because of the “principle”.

She said: “My mum would be so sad to know that after all the years she has paid her dues as a social worker and paid her council tax they still want money out of her even after death.

“My mum would also be upset to know how it’s affecting my brother and me.”

The council said it could not comment on individual cases.

But a spokesman added: “Maldon District Council aims to provide high levels of customer service and I am sorry if the family and their representatives feel that we have fallen short of this when dealing with any enquiry they have raised with us.

“Any customer who is dissatisfied with our services can refer to our website where information about how to make a comment or complaint can be found.”