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Financial abuse of the elderly… what can you do?

By March 22, 2016January 29th, 2021Litigation

A woman stole more than £50,000 from her elderly mother and refused to buy her a new set of teeth – leaving her struggling to eat.

Anita Howell, 63, began looking after mum Vera Heritage’s affairs when the 92-year-old was diagnosed with dementia .But instead of helping the pensioner she moved £57,000 into her own account and stopped providing money for her care.

Speaking after Howell was jailed for one year Det Con Gemma Weeks said: “This is a callous crime. Anita Howell abused the position that she held as power of attorney to her vulnerable mother.

Howell took out a power of attorney to manage her mother’s finances when Vera moved in with her in 2006. But between 2008 and 2014 she raided her mum’s accounts – taking around £250 every fortnight.

Financial abuse of the elderly is on the rise.  The number of cases we see as a firm is increasing year on year.  From a personal view point it is disheartening to think that the most vulnerable of our society are being treated this way.  It is wrong.The law makes provision for the care of the elderly and there are steps that can be taken to help protect the elderly.   A deputyship or a lasting power of attorney (LPA) can be set up.  An LPA deals with the property and financial affairs, or for health and care.  An LPA appoints usually one or two people to look after these affairs on your behalf.  You can make provision for up to four people to be noted on the LPA.  These are used when a person feels that it has become too much to deal with finances, property or health care.  They appoint someone who can take care of matters on their behalf.  If you or a family member need help setting up an LPA or a deputyship then we, as a firm, can help you out.If you are named on an LPA then you are acting in a position to trust.  In being named on an LPA you have numerous duties to undertake and legal obligations.  These should be explained to you by a solicitor when drawing up the LPA.  If this does not happen then you may have a case against the solicitor who you paid to advise you.  An LPA is a serious legal relationship and they should not be taken lightly.Cases arise, such as the one in the press below, whereby parties breach their duties under the LPA.  If you breach your duties under the LPA then you may find yourself liable to both criminal and civil proceedings.As a firm we specialise in these cases and we can help when a loved one has been financially abused.  We can help to get back monies that have been taken and ensure they are given back to the victims.  Ultimately we strive to look after our clients and ensure that their misappropriated items and/or monies are returned and that there is sufficient protection to stop this happening again.  If you have concerns about the treatment of an elderly family member, friend or acquaintance then please feel free to call us.  The only way abuse of the elderly cases will be irradiated is by outing the guilty parties and making sure justice is served, and as with anything prevention is better than cure, make sure you have adequate protection in place to stop any abuse before it starts.

Alison Rocca

Author Alison Rocca

Alison is a solicitor in our Litigation department.

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