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Siblings dispute control of mother’s affairs

The son of an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s Disease has failed in a bid to oppose the appointment of his sisters as deputies for her affairs.

Re PMB concerned a woman born in 1927 and therefore in her late 80s. She had five children from her first husband, to whom she was married for 29 years: three daughters and a son. Her second husband died just 17 months after their wedding.

In 1999, she drafted her own will, appointing her youngest daughter, ‘DG’, executor.

The woman, referred to as ‘PMB’, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2012, and has lived in a nursing home since February this year.

In July, DG and her older sister RS applied to be officially made deputies for their mother’s property and affairs. But the application was opposed by JG, the woman’s eldest son. He claimed that they had made the application maliciously “with the intention, based on sibling disagreements, of continuing to exclude [him] from participation in my mother’s affairs.”

They had ignored his requests to be included in discussions of their mother’s affairs, he claimed, and had excluded him from the process of clearing their mother’s property and personal effects from her home, “whilst refusing to advise me of how and where these items (some of sentimental value) have been disposed of.”

But, sitting in the Court of Protection, Senior Judge Lush was unconvinced by the brother’s arguments and rejected his claim of malice and exclusion.

“[JG’s] His mother has assets that need to be managed and she is mentally incapable of managing them herself. In the absence of a Lasting Power of Attorney, someone had to apply to the court for the appointment of a deputy. The application was entirely appropriate and it was made with the assistance of PMB’s solicitors.”

JG had already received family photographs bequeathed to him by his mother and he had ‘unreasonably’ rejected an offer by the sisters to send him a copy of their annual report to the Office of the Public Guardian, the public body which regulates deputyship. This was, the judge said, “essentially because he perceived it as a climb-down or a loss of face on his part, rather than as a means of resolving deadlock with speed and certainty.”

Senior Judge Lush also pointed to the sisters’ greater geographical proximity. Both visited their mother regularly and lived relatively close by, while JG “has had very limited contact with his mother since he returned to England three years ago.”

JG also refused to disclose his address to his siblings, claiming to be in fear of violence since he had been “manhandled” at the mother’s home on her 85th birthday.

Read the full judgement here.

Judge Lush presided over a similar case reported last month. In Re JL, the unemployed daughter of another elderly woman with Alzheimer’s Disease had her power of attorney over her mother’s affairs revoked following concerns that she was misusing the funds.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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