The Court of Protection has retrospectively approved payments made by a deputy to himself for care provided to his elderly mother.
Re HC concerned a 78 year old woman from Jamaica who had first came to Britain in 1957. She married twice – the second time after her first husband was killed in a car crash not long after her arrival in Britain. She divorced her now deceased second husband in 1977, after 16 years of marriage.
‘HC’ had five children in total – three daughters and two sons, all now in their 50s. She lived in Bristol and formerly worked as a nurse at a hospital for the mentally disabled.
Eleven years ago HC developed dementia and is now unable to make decisions about her own welfare or financial affairs. In 2009 she moved to live with her younger son, referred to in the judgement as ‘CC’, who lives in Streatham, south London. Later the same year he was appointed her legal deputy, with responsibility for his mother’s financial affairs.
Last summer, however, the Office of the Public Guardian applied to the Court of Protection for an order compelling CC to provide a detailed account of his financial dealings as deputy, “with full supporting documents”, from September 2009. These were to include details of the care cost payments.
CC was also required to provide answers to some specific queries, providing, for instance, full details of a plan for his mother to return to her home in Bristol.
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) protects the interests of people who have had deputies appointed to look after their affairs due to illness or disability. The Court of Protection, meanwhile, makes rulings on behalf of such people.
The OPG had become concerned about CC after reviewing his annual deputyship report forms. They noted that he was paying himself £1,300 a month for the care he provided to his mother and that he had also spent large sums renovating her home in Bristol. The OPG also criticised, according to Senior Judge Lush, “the vagueness of CC’s accounting for the annual expenditure and the lack of evidence provided to support it.”
Senior Judge Lush granted the order, and declared that CC should provide the details requested by September 26 last year.
CC submitted further documents, claiming that the OPG had not provided him with adequate support in his role as his mother’s property and affairs deputy. He proposed, however, that he not only that he continue in the role but that he become her welfare deputy as well. His sister submitted an statement of support, saying:
“I believe that the respondent/deputy has acted with the best interests of the client and in accordance with the client’s immediate family’s wishes which has not willingly or intentionally caused any harm or financial loss to [HC]”.
In response, the OPG argued that CC had not provided all the details they had requested, in particular receipts for the renovation work carried out on his mother’s home, or details of plans to rent the property. The previous plan, for HC to return to her home, was abandoned when her mobility declined.
He was asked to apply for retrospective approval of the various payments. CC filed a further witness statement, setting out the various options which had been open to HC’s family when she became dependent. They had chosen care at home because this was less expensive, provided easier access for her family, made it easier for them to monitor their mother’s welfare and allowed her to live in “a more normal familiar and happier environment”.
At the subsequent Court of Protection hearing, Senior Judge Lush said he had been impressed by both CC and his sister JC, who had submitted the supportive statement. He was, added the Judge, “generally satisfied with their explanations.”
Judge Lush added:
“CC gave up his career as a quantity surveyor in order to become his mother’s full-time carer. This was an enormous sacrifice for a man in his mid-forties to make and, having regard to all the circumstances, the payments he made to himself for caring for her were not unreasonable. Essentially, they were affordable and less expensive than alternative care regimes.”
Read the judgement here.
Photo of Streatham Common by Nicky Johns via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence