In a recent judgment, a court has found that a 95 year old woman from Oldham with dementia was the victim of financial abuse by her niece’s husband, Colin.
The woman, identified only as Alma was living in a care home. Shortly after she moved into the care home, she appointed Colin as her attorney for her financial affairs. This gave him power to control her money.
Staff at the care home became suspicious when her care home fees were not paid. Her clothes became so threadbare that staff had to donate clothes left behind by other deceased residents.
A referral was made to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). They investigated matters and asked Colin to provide bank statements and account for his dealings with Alma’s money. He failed to provide this information.
The OPG discovered that Colin had spent almost £30,000 of Alma’s money and had not accounted for it. He had even purchased a property in her name despite her living in a care home and had no need for it.
An expert saw Alma and concluded that she lacked the mental capacity to be able to revoke the Power of Attorney. Proceedings were issued on her behalf in the Court of Protection to remove Colin as her attorney.
Attorneys are bound by several duties, which are found in the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice. The judge who heard this case described Colin’s actions as a ‘litany of failings’. They included failing to keep her money separate from his own, failing to keep accounts, failing to produce bank statements, failing to provide her with an adequate personal allowance, failing to act with honesty and integrity and he did not treat her with any semblance of dignity or respect.
The court heard that in the two and a half years he had been her attorney he had given her £290, or less than £10 a month.
Unsurprisingly, the judge had no hesitation in removing Colin as her attorney.
The judgment reports that he was interviewed by the police, but it is not known whether he will face criminal charges or have to pay back any of the money he stole.
Specialist Court of Protection solicitor, Helen Dandridge, said, “The case is yet another reminder that attorneys need to be very careful in handling another person’s money. The first rule of thumb is that it is not your money to spend as you wish! This elderly lady had sensibly tried to plan for what would happen in the future when she was no longer able to manage her own money and the very person she trusted with that responsibility stole from her.”
Ridley & Hall’s specialist Court of Protection team are able to advise on any issue relating to attorneys.
Call us on 0843 2897610 or contact us by email.
The full judgment on this case can be found here.