The twilight years of many pensioners are blighted by family squabbles over the destination of their assets. However, as revealed by one High Court case, many such problems can be avoided by prompt consultation of a solicitor.
An 89-year-old woman had granted one of her two daughters a power of attorney to manage her affairs in the event that she lost the legal capacity to make her own decisions. The other daughter objected and argued before a Court of Protection judge that her sister was unfit to perform that role.
In refusing the other daughter’s application to strip her sister of her appointment, the judge lamented that the case had degenerated into a family ‘slanging match’. In the light of expert medical evidence, it was clear that the pensioner retained the ability to make her own rational choices and that the Court thus had no power to intervene.
The daughter who made the application, the judge ruled, had acted in bad faith and had been motivated by spite against her sister. Had the pensioner appointed a lawyer to act as her attorney – someone whose independence and professionalism was assured – the public dispute between her daughters would have been avoided altogether.