Court of Protection & Financial Abuse of the Elderly

If a person lacks capacity to deal with their own financial affairs, then one way or another, the Court of Protection is likely to be involved.

This is the Court which deals with the affairs of mentally incapacitated people and a number of different applications that go through it.

Examples are; applications to appoint someone as a Deputy (when there is no validly appointed Attorney); disputes about Deputyships and registration of Lasting Powers of Attorney and Enduring Powers of Attorney; as well as applications for gifts to be made and Wills to be executed on behalf of mentally incapacitated people and any disputes arising out of these. In addition, if there has been any sort of financial abuse, then the authority of the Court may well be required to enable someone to intervene and to try to recover assets.

Mary Butler heads up an expert and very experienced team, who are able to deal with this emotionally charged and often complex work sensitively and in a cost effective manner.

If you would like more information or advice, please contact:

Jane Statham on 0114 220 2185 [email protected]

Mary Butler on 0114 220 2185  [email protected]

Quite often, the elderly can be taken advantage of by those seeking to exploit them financially, and unfortunately, this type of abuse is more often than not, committed by close relatives or friends.  This makes the abuse more difficult to spot and to stamp out.

Quite often, the person who is being financially abused doesn’t realise it or, even if they do, they are scared to make a complaint or seek help.

It is, however, possible for “gifts” or transactions which are made to transfer assets or property from somebody to another person to be set aside (i.e put back).

The most common difficulty in financial abuse cases is that the person who is being abused, looks to have ‘consented’ to the money being given to the abuser. Although this makes the case difficult, it is by no means impossible to rectify.

Financial abuse takes many forms and if you have any concerns, please seek specialist advice at the earliest opportunity.

Some warning signs of financial abuse to look out for:

  • Social isolation of the person;
  • New friends or long lost relatives turning up “out of the wood work”;
  • Lack of personal grooming items;
  • Sudden changes to telephone number;
  • Relocation with the assistance of “friends” or relatives;
  • Unusual spending habits;
  • New credit cards or loans.

Of course, some of these warning signs can, and often do, have a perfectly innocent explanation,  but caution should always be heeded.

An example of financial abuse:

I thought little of it at the time when my elderly mother decided to move from close to where I lived in Derbyshire to Northamptonshire, where my sister lived.

“Only after my mum passed away did I learn that mum’s new house was in my sister’s name and that my sister had spent several thousand pounds of my mum’s money on herself.

“I was worried that mum’s assets had been taken by my sister and there was nothing that could be done.

“I went to see Bell & Buxton however and they recovered half the value of the house and the money which my sister had wrongly spent”.

For more information please see our factsheet or contact Mary Butler, Partner and Head of our Inheritance Disputes Team on 0114 220 2185 [email protected].

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