A reclusive football supporter (BM), who became the focus of a legal dispute as he lay in a hospital bed after suffering a massive stroke, will have his financial affairs and property managed by a reliable cousin following a family judge’s ruling.
Religion and football were the man’s only interests, but he had rarely left his home and had never been to see his favourite football team play due to the agoraphobia which had blighted his life. Since suffering a catastrophic brain haemorrhage, he had been in hospital, receiving 24-hour care.
BM’s total assets, including his home and a bank account containing £138,000, came to over £400,000. There was no dispute that he lacked capacity to manage his own affairs and an issue therefore arose as to who should be appointed as BM’s deputy to perform that role for his benefit.
A Pentecostal preacher (JB), who claimed BM as an ardent member of her flock, had put herself forward as a candidate. However, his cousin (AG) was joined by his friends and neighbours in objecting to her appointment. Faced with a ‘straight choice’ between JB and AG, the judge found that the latter was more suited to take on the role of managing BM’s affairs.
JB had described BM as ‘part of my family’ and had said that she had ’embraced and supported’ him after his mother’s death. Claiming that she was his only close friend, she had said that he related to her as a mother figure and confidant. She had an ‘unshakable belief’ that he would recover from his stroke.
However, the judge said that he could understand why BM’s friends and family ‘seemed hostile’ to JB. He added, “When JB turned up, without any formal authorisation, demanding his keys, his financial documents, and his last will and testament, deleting their names as his friends on Facebook and refusing to permit them to visit him in hospital, alarm bells would have resounded.”
JB had exposed herself to a potential conflict of interest by allowing her daughter to move into BM’s home rent free after he was admitted to hospital, and the judge said, “I accept that JB sought to isolate BM from his existing support network for no good reason.”
AG had worked in a senior role for a charity and had long experience of managing money. The task of administering BM’s property and finances was ‘frankly rather onerous’ and, having retired, AG would have time to perform that duty. JB, on the other hand, had pressing calls on her time, not least running her church and her television ministry.
Appointing AG to the office of deputy, the judge concluded, “I am sure that JB wishes to be of service to BM in his current predicament. But her spare time and spiritual gifts would be better deployed by means of continued prayers and intercessions on his behalf than in the mundane task of looking after his property and financial affairs.”