1. Expert Q&A: Protecting a person with dementia from financial abuse - Weds 26 June, 3:30-4:30 pm

    Financial abuse can have serious consequences for a person with dementia. Find out how to protect a person with dementia from financial abuse.

    Sam, our Knowledge Officer (Legal and Welfare Rights) is our expert on this topic. She will be here to answer your questions on Wednesday 26 June between 3:30 - 4:30 pm.

    You can either post questions >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll answer as many as we can on the day.

Financial and legal confusion over mums finances

Discussion in 'Legal and financial issues' started by ursula62, Jul 1, 2015.

  1. ursula62

    ursula62 Registered User

    Jul 1, 2015
    11
    Hi,
    I have just joined the forum and am grateful it is here. My mum has Alzheimers and recently went into a care home which is very good and seems pretty settled. Before that my sister, her husband and son were living with her in my mum's house, who has owned it since my dad died.
    My sisters family moved in with my mum a couple of years ago about 2 years after my mums diagnosis, but while she was still capable of living at home with some help. My sister and husband both worked fulltime but organised for my mum to have support groups to go to some days, but not every day. My mum fell on the stairs and broke her hip one night when everyone was at home, but she got up at night. She went to hospital and from there to the home, as it was deemed by Social Services that she wouldnt be safe left on her own for even a small amount of time at home.
    Since she has been in hospital and at the home where she will now stay, my sister and her family have continued to live in my mums house. They moved there partly because they had to sell their own home due to financial problems, or it would have been re-possessed.
    My mum agreed to make my sister a joint bank account holder with her several years ago before she got dementia, and my sister set up direct debits paying all the household bills.
    However my mum never really accepted her diagnosis, and refused to grant Power of Attorney to my sister. My sister still has access to mums bank account, and pays the care home fees out of it. However, I believe there is at least £500 left of my mums pension per month after the home fees are paid.
    Since my sister doesnt have POA, all the DD's have to remain in place, - nothing on the bank acct can be changed. My sister doesnt want to apply to the Court of Protection for POA, as she says they will 'interfere too much' in the details of my mums finances.
    I just really want to know what the legal position is here.
    My mum initially agreed for my sisters family to move in, but after that didnt like them being there and there was alot of conflict. She seemed to foget she had said they could live there and nothing was written down.
    Are my sister and her family legally entitled to stay in the house indefinitely? I assume money for most of the household bills are still coming out of my mums account, so basically, its costing them nothing to live there. I know they cant really afford another very good place to live, but they do both work fulltime, and I think this is taking a great deal of advantage.
    What does anyone else think? Should I talk to a solicitor about this?
     
  2. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    11,495
    Female
    London
    I am sorry, I have no idea about the legal situation and you are best advised to contact a solicitor. Your sister might not want to apply for deputyship but there is nothing stopping you from doing so if you think that will stop financial abuse. Of course she might fight you on this.
     
  3. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,383
    Female
    South coast
    What? They are living there for free with all bills paid even though they are both working full-time?
    They are having a laugh.
    I have no idea about the legal side, though. Sorry
     
  4. theunknown

    theunknown Registered User

    Apr 17, 2015
    322
    Sorry Ursula, like others I don't know the legal ramifications. However, I would have thought that if it's got as far as applying to the CoP then it would be for deputyship, not PoA, because PoA requires the person it involves to be able to understand and agree to what's happening. The CoP is used when the person is not able to understand what is happening, so can't agree. I'm currently going through the CoP to get deputyship to access my mum's financial assets for this reason.

    What I would add is, that until/unless someone has PoA or deputyship, somebody needs to pay for that person's needs/requirements/bills until there is access to their funds, if they're not capable of doing this themselves. My mum has been in a care home since the end of April 2015, and we've [or specifically, my husband] have already paid out thousands to cover the bills that came in after she'd left her own home, including the care home top-up fees and incidentals.

    If your mum has only recently gone into a home then there's probably bills that need to be paid that cover the period when she was still at home. Eventually, I would have thought it very important to get your own legal advice if you can't rely on your sister not to take advantage of the situation.

    Sorry if I've misread the situation, but I know that when it comes to money things can happen that shouldn't.
     
  5. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    4,668
    Salford
    Hi Ursula, welcome to TP
    Your mum must have a very substantial pension if it covers her care home fees (let's say £600 a week) and still has a £500 surplus every month, that said you do need to see a solicitor and I feel they'll send you down the court of protection route which is unfortunate but I can't see another way.
    Your sister shouldn't be accessing your mum's money to maintain her lifestyle, eventually what she is doing may well come out and she could be asked to repay it.
    Regrettably this could get unpleasant but it does sound like your sister is exploiting the situation. Sorry I can't be more positive about it.
    K
     
  6. ursula62

    ursula62 Registered User

    Jul 1, 2015
    11
    Its difficult really because my sister has kind of lived with my mum for years and years even though she was married and used to live just down the road. My mum wasnt very well mentally after my dad died and Rachel (sister) stayed with her more nights than she probably stayed with her own family.
    I dont particularly begrudge them living there. However, sometimes Rachel moans about the bills and the issue that they may have to pay any of them at all - if my mums pension - which is quite generous wont pay them all. This just makes me feel pretty upset, - OK - so stay there - but dont actually shout about the fact that you begrudge having to pay anything at all towards your'e living expenses.
    I have this feeling that Rachel actually just expects to carry on living there after my mum is gone, but according to the will, the house would have to be sold, so I get my share of the inheritance. I can see conflict ahead over this too, as Rachel is always moaning that me and my husband are better off than her! We are to an extent, but hardly megarich!
     
  7. care2share

    care2share Registered User

    Jun 14, 2015
    92
    London
    Hello ursula62, I'm new to all this myself so please don't take this as gospel.
    My understanding is that once deputyship has been granted it is the duty of the deputy to fully maximize the assets of the person.This would mean either selling or letting any property they own. Maybe it's time for sister and brother-in-law to sort out another place of their own and to do it before forced. I'm sure eventually there will be a decision apportioning finances to their lives and to Mums. I dare say it will get very complicated. One thing I'm not unsure of though is, work together in this situation if at all possible, especially the CoP as disputes can lead to matters being taken out of your hands entirely. Also, I guess the British Bankers Association will have guidance on joint accounts and mental capacity. Good luck to all concerned.
     
  8. Saffie

    Saffie Registered User

    Mar 26, 2011
    22,491
    Female
    Near Southampton
    If the bank become aware the one holder of a joint account has dementia then the account is usualy closed until either LPA or Deputyship is obtained. With direct debits and internet access, it isn't as easy for banks to become aware of the dementia these days but it can still happen.

    That your sister (I would remove her name by the way, or change it) is still accessing your mother's money withough legal authority seems wrong. I would suggest that somebody applies for LPA, if your mother has the mental capacity to arrange it, or Deputyship if not.

    I would also think that your sister should be paying rent.
     
  9. jaymor

    jaymor Volunteer Moderator

    Jul 14, 2006
    12,244
    Female
    England
    Your Mother should only be responsible for any insurance on the property and maybe council tax at a push. All other bills should be paid by your sister. Maybe she should pay the council tax too, if she was renting the property then she would have to.

    It is wrong that she is living rent free and using her Mother's money. The house is part of your Mothers assets and as such should be looked after in her best interests as should her money, not be exploited by your sister.

    Someone has to take responsibility for looking after your Mother's assets and will be accountable as to where the money, from the time of her admittion the the care home, has gone. The longer the present arrangement goes on the worse the consequences may be.

    I wish you luck and hope it can be sorted sooner than later.
     
  10. ursula62

    ursula62 Registered User

    Jul 1, 2015
    11
    Thanks for your replies everyone.
    I had a feeling that the bank already knew that my mum had dementia. A few years ago, when my mums alzheimers was not so obvious but she had been diagnosed she went into her local bank branch where the staff knew her. They suggested some changes to her account which she agreed to, and shortly after that a letter arrived from them confirming what they had agreed.
    My mum didnt understand it, and didnt remember going to the bank and setting the changes up, when my sister asked her about it. I think at this point my sister went into the bank and explained the situation.
    I'm not sure they know that my mum is no longer living in her home, but obviously when my sister pays care home bills regularly, this will become apparent. At that point the bank may start querying things.
    I didnt know that if one person has dementia who holds a joint account, the bank would close the acct.
    I will go and talk to a solicitor about this before talking to my sister. If other agencies get involved anyway, I may just wait and see how things pan out for the meantime.
     
  11. jaymor

    jaymor Volunteer Moderator

    Jul 14, 2006
    12,244
    Female
    England
    With the bank account I think they will only put a stop on the account, that is what was done when I worked for the bank. It means that the account cannot be used until all the necessary arrangements are in place so though not closed, it will be awkward to run your Mum's affairs.
     
  12. Saffie

    Saffie Registered User

    Mar 26, 2011
    22,491
    Female
    Near Southampton
    Yes, I'm sorry, you're right the account is not permanently closed but blocked until the appropriate authority is able to re-open for financial dealings. This can be exrememly inconvenient though and can mean no access to the capital for many months.
     
  13. care2share

    care2share Registered User

    Jun 14, 2015
    92
    London
    I suppose this is where Social Services have to step in. They pay for the time being and secure the loan with a charge on the property while deputyship is applied for. Would I be right in saying an emergency application can be made for care home fees while a normal application is going through? Does anybody know?
    I think some councils will exempt the council tax, but utilities will still charge and apply penalties too if bills go unpaid whatever the circumstances.
     
  14. ursula62

    ursula62 Registered User

    Jul 1, 2015
    11
    Yes they might do this. Social Services have been involved in the decision to place my mum in the care home all along. I remember a meeting where they and myself and y sister were present, and I think the assumption was that my sister was going to apply for Deputyship at that point.
    My husband doesnt really want me to get involved, as whenever anything to do with this is mentioned my sister immediately gets very upset about it all.
    I think her view is that she devoted years to my mum long before she had Alzheimers, when I was living in another part of the country and abroad, so she was caring for my mum and I wasnt.
     
  15. care2share

    care2share Registered User

    Jun 14, 2015
    92
    London
    Sadly, once mental capacity is lost and no LPA is in place it is way to late for any reward for the years of care and attention your sister has already put in. Now, it will be the time spent with Mum that she'll be glad of. Her only reward. She probably feels she is entitled to benefit a little from the situation but now it must all be done in your Mums best interest, which of course, is the whole idea of the Court of Protection.
    By the way, how bad is Mum. Has she definitely lost capacity? Maybe she was judged too harshly while in hospital, or it may have served as a quicker and cheaper way to get her out.
     
  16. ursula62

    ursula62 Registered User

    Jul 1, 2015
    11
    Thanks for your'e reply. My mum has been assessed by doctors and had alot of tests, and yes she has lost capacity, certainly to be safe on her own for more than about half an hour. The idea of her going home again from hospital was discussed, but the cost of care for her while the others are out working would have worked out as the same or more than her being in the care home. I and my husband have actually just come back from visiting her - its only ten minutes down the road from us, and we can go often, and take her out and bring her over to our house for a few hours.
    I can honestly say I have no qualms at all about her being there. When we go there the staff are always really friendly, very attentive to the residents, and there is a relaxed and jolly atmosphere there. I dont sense any discontent or tension. We just had a singalong session while we were there. My mum has made some friends with the other residents, and she seems happier than she has been for a long time at home.

    AS for my sister, I dont really want to PERSONALLY be the one to drop her in it, as I actually dont want to lose my only sister, which would effectively be the result. I'll wait until the relevant authorities start asking questions and she has no option but to apply for deputyship. If she is told she has to, she wouldnt contest it - she is scared of being seen to be doing anything illegal, and her husband wouldnt dream of it either. I dont think he really wants to be living there, but they are not well paid, and cant afford a mortgage. His mum is thinking of moving nearer, so I suppose if she does, at a push, they could move in with her. We'll just have to see how it pans out.
     
  17. Saffie

    Saffie Registered User

    Mar 26, 2011
    22,491
    Female
    Near Southampton
    Arranging LPA is dependent upon your mother simply understanding at the time what it is for and being able to sign her name. Nothing to do with her being able to cope on her own. It is much more easily obtained and managed than Deputyship. So maybe you could point this out to your sister as this is just being helpful. Best of luck.
     
  18. jaymor

    jaymor Volunteer Moderator

    Jul 14, 2006
    12,244
    Female
    England
    Just be aware that if she is doing something she should not be even if unintentional, then the bigger the problem will be. Could you not just suggest she speaks with someone who could advise her as to what is ok and what is not? I can understand you not wanting to fall out with your sister.
     
  19. ursula62

    ursula62 Registered User

    Jul 1, 2015
    11
    Well, I'll be seeing her on Saturday at the care homes garden party, so I will tentatively mention it there. She may be well aware that things will come to the authorities attention at some point. She is obsessively worried about money and her job security, and is on antidepressants and has had contact with the mental health services. Its difficult for everyone involved really.
     
  20. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    2,482
    Radcliffe on Trent
    Maybe if you talk to your sister about the possibility of obtaining LPA you could encourage her to read the guidance in the gov.uk website? I think there is a section which indicates what an attorney's responsibilities are and how money can be spent. It might be that this would be accepted as 'objective' advice rather than criticism?
     

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