Judge revokes power of attorney for ‘feckless’ son

Family Law|July 20th 2014

A judge has revoked a son’s ‘lasting power of attorney’ (LPA) over his mother due to the “utter fecklessness” of his financial dealings.

In Public Guardian v DH, the mother had appointed her son to make decisions regarding her finances and property on her behalf when she updated her will in 2010.

This came after her husband, who had always looked after their finances, died in 2009.

The son, identified as ‘DH’ in the judgment, decided that because his mother was becoming “increasingly frail and forgetful”, she should move in with him and his partner in 2011.

DH then took out a loan with the stated intention of renovating his mother’s bungalow in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire and renting it out to generate an income. However, he used the money to renovate a property belonging to his partner’s late mother instead.

DH and his partner broke up after the renovations to her mother’s house were completed. As a result, DH had to use £72,000 of his mother’s money to pay back the bank loan.

At this point, DH’s nephew raised concerns with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) that the mother’s best interests were not being served.

The OPG is a governmental body which protects the rights of people who cannot make decisions for themselves as defined by the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Following an assessment of the mother’s health and mental state, the OPG claimed that she was unable to revoke her son’s LPA, so they applied to the courts in order to do it for her.

The application was made under section 22 of the Mental Capacity Act, which states that LPA can be revoked from anyone who behaves “in a way that contravenes his authority or is not in [the person they have power over]’s best interests.”

Senior Judge Denzil Lush heard the application, and ruled that DH was not a credible witness as he had changed his story several times over the course of the proceedings.

DH had initially claimed the £72,000 from his mother had been a loan which he intended to pay back. Later on, he claimed it was a gift from the mother he was treating as a loan. His final story was that it was a gift, so he was under no obligation to pay it back.

The judge said “the utter fecklessness of [DH’s] actions and the implausibility of his story” were the main reason he was not to be believed.

He concluded that he was satisfied DH had indeed acted in a way that “contravened his very limited authority” and ordered that his lasting power of attorney be revoked.

Photo by Eric Mesa via Flickr

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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