The unemployed daughter of an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s Disease has had her power of attorney revoked.
In Re JL (Revocation of Lasting Power of Attorney), JL was 76 years old. She lived in her own home in Essex and had two now adult children – a daughter who lived locally and a son who worked as a mortgage broker in Sheffield. She had been estranged from their father, who was her third husband, for 20 years.
Following her diagnosis, JL gave her daughter, referred to as ‘AS’, lasting power of attorney (LPA) over her financial affairs. Such arrangements grant the power to make decisions about a person’s assets or welfare if they become unable to do so themselves.
Sitting in the Court of Protection, Senior Judge Lush explained:
“The LPA was drawn up by JL’s daughter AS online and, perhaps not surprisingly, JL appointed AS to be her sole attorney. She did not receive any independent advice about the creation of the LPA, though AS claims that she fully explained the document to her mother before she signed it.”
The completed and witnessed LPA was registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). This government body is also responsible for monitoring those who hold powers of attorney.
Exactly six months after the LPA was registered, the OPG asked the Court of Protection to revoke AS’s role. They presented evidence that there had been “a number of excessive and uncharacteristic withdrawals from her funds” and that her bank account was being rapidly depleted as a result. AS’ mobile phone bill was being paid from her mother’s funds but major utility bills by contrast remained unpaid and her house was dirty and uncared for. JL complained of being kept short of funds and made strange comments about needing to engage in prostitution to cover the shortfall.
The judge noted:
“In particular, JL said she needed the money so that she could pay the train fare from Sheffield for her son to visit her (£100) and to compensate him for the overtime he would otherwise have earned but for the visit (£80).”
In June the LPA was suspended and the local authority become temporary attorney over JL’s affairs. At a subsequent hearing Judge Lush ruled that AS had acted against her mother’s best interests, a condition for permanent revocation set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005. She had admitted failing to keep proper records, despite this being a condition of the LPA. When asked about the unusual expenditure she had said: “there is no point in her being the wealthiest woman in the graveyard.”
Judge Lush described this comment as “trite”.
“JL is far from being a wealthy woman and what funds she has should be applied for her benefit and in her best interests. She lives in squalor.”
When social services visited her in July last year, the elderly woman had not changed her clothes for months. She is now in receipt of a care package from Essex County Council.
The judge continued:
“I have to say that from my own observation of AS’s demeanour at the hearing that she came over as forceful and persistent and I imagine it would be difficult for a lonely, vulnerable woman with a cognitive impairment to resist complying with her wishes and demands.”
When asked, JL said he would prefer the Council to take over her affairs., and admitted that her daughter had not done “a very good job”.
The judge granted her wish.
Read the full judgement here.
Photo by Sebastien Wiertz via Flickr