A businessman has had power of attorney over his mother’s finances revoked after allegations of misconduct.
In The Public Guardian v JW, the 95 year old mother, called ‘OW’ in the judgment, appointed her sonas sole attorney shortly before an accident which resulted in a lengthy hospital stay.
OW was discharged to a care home in Brighton after two months in hospital and was transferred to a facility in Hove roughly two years later.
A social worker with the NHS Dementia Services ruled that she was not eligible for subsidised care as her needs were not “significantly complex or unpredictable” enough.
Despite her being ineligible for subsidies, her son, ‘JW’, failed to pay the fees for the care home, which resulted in the accumulation of £77,000 in debt.
Brighton and Hove Council contacted the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) when they became concerned over her son’s handling of his mother’s finances.
The OPG’s applied to have JW’s power of attorney revoked following his failure to pay the care home fees.
JW claimed he did this because refusing payment was “the only lever” he had to get the NHS and the council “to do their jobs properly” in relation to his mother’s care.
Senior Judge Lush said this line of argument was “totally unacceptable”.
The OPG also alleged that JW had been using his mother’s money to pay his rent and utility bills in full, despite OW living in a care home since 2011.
JW responded to the allegations by saying he was convinced his mother would eventually return to live with him, as she had before her accident, so he was using her money to maintain the flat for her.
The judge said:
“JW’s argument that there was a possibility that she might return, although not unreasonable in itself, highlights the fact that there was a conflict between his interests and OW’s during that period, which he handled poorly.”
He added that “[a]ny vestige of [JW’s] integrity is utterly eroded” by the fact that he also used his mother’s funds to advertise his business and pay excise duty on his vehicle.
Another social worker ruled that OW lacked the mental capacity to decide whether to revoke or suspend her son’s power of attorney.
Senior Judge Lush concluded that he was satisfied JW was not acting in his mother’s best interest, and as she lacked the capacity to revoke his power of attorney, he would grant the OPG’s application to do so.
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