Pensioners who are worried about the future should consider appointing a legal professional to manage their finances if they lose the ability to make decisions for themselves. Relying on family members to step in to the breach may well not be the right option as a court decision revealed.
The retired academic at the centre of the case had moved into a nursing home after the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. She had granted powers of attorney to her two sons, who were required to manage her affairs for her benefit. However, concerns had been raised as to their suitability for that role and an inquiry was launched by the Public Guardian, the official who looks after the interests of vulnerable members of society who have lost the capacity to care for themselves.
At the Public Guardian’s behest, the sons were stripped of their powers of attorney by the Court of Protection. The Court found that one son had abused his position of trust by diverting his mother’s money for his own benefit and by failing to act with honesty and integrity. The other son had failed to engage with the Public Guardian or to safeguard his mother’s finances from being plundered by his brother.
One of the sons had spent £24,000 of his mother’s money on installing a state-of-the-art boiler for his own benefit. Almost £20,000 had been used to pay his trade suppliers and, although his mother owned two investment properties, the rental income from them had not found its way into her accounts. The sons were replaced as attorneys by a close friend and neighbour of their mother who would manage her finances and property under close supervision by a solicitor.