Financial query

poster

Registered User
Dec 28, 2011
190
0
:When my dad died he left my mum with some money. Not a lot but she has enough to keep her ticking over. She has £20k which is not a great deal, but she is certainly not broke. She has asked me to help her financially. We have taken out lasting power of attourney for obvious reasons and I do not have anything like £20k but my mum asked me to pay the £400 solicitors fee which she said she could not possibly afford. She said it is my duty to pay this fee as her daughter and she told the solicitor that I would pay it. I have no choice but to pay it. I am working but have to pay my own way and am on my own and have to budget very carefully. The only way I can pay this bill is to pay it in installments which the solicitor has agreed to do.

My mum says she is keeping her money for a rainy day, but isnt this one of those days? Is she right to ask me to pay this bill when she has £20k in her bank account. Taking £400 out is hardly going to make her a pauper is it?
 

FifiMo

Registered User
Feb 10, 2010
4,703
0
Wiltshire
As I understand it, Power of Attorney is something which is granted by the donor (your mum). It is her document giving you the right to help manage her finances as and when the time comes and the document is registered. On this basis I would not consider you to be liable to pay anything. Indeed, if, say you didn't have an LPA in place and ended up having to go for deputy ship the full cost of obtaining that including all the registration fees etc would be charged to your mum AND you would be entitled to claim expenses from her monies too.

All of these documents are put together for HER benefit and not yours. You should also be aware that if it came that your mum ever needed to go into a care home then the local authorities would take that money plus any other incomes eg pensions until such time as she only had £14500 left. So, it might not be her money afterall if ill-health befalls her.

Fiona
 

poster

Registered User
Dec 28, 2011
190
0
Fiona,

My mum is already in a care home. She has been means tested which means that since she did not own her own home, she is not liable to pay the full cost of the care home fees. You need to have proof that you have less than £12k in order to get some help from the state which my mother does. She used to live in a council house and got Housing Benefit and paid no rent. You cannot get Housing Benefit for care homes so you do have to pay the rent yourself but if you are on a low income and have less than £12k then the Government will help you with some of the fees and you top up the remainder out of whtever monies you have.

Lasting Power of Attourney is not just for managing finances. I do have power to deal with her bank account which she took out with the bank and I have a letter of authority which my mum signed allowing me to make payments out of her bank account because at the time when my dad died, she was in no fit state to manage her own finances. Since then, she has recovered and is now able to withdraw cash and make payments and buy things with her debit card. I still have that letter and if I wanted to, I could go into the bank and show the manager the letter and withdraw cash out of her account and they could not stop me as the letter gives me full permission to do so. However if I did so (which I have no intention of doing) my mum would notice cash missing from her bank statement and query where it has gone because she would know she had not spent the money. (Although my mum has dementia and behavioural problems, she does know how to manage her money).

Lasting Power of Attourney was taken out for the future. I do not know how my mum will be in years to come. This lasting power of attourney will mean that if my mums mind does go so far that she cannot make coherent decisions, then I can step in. If she got very ill and needed to be moved to a hospital closer to me then I have power of attourney to move her and the authorities could not stop me. At the moment she lives in Somerset and I live in London and visiting her in the event of serious illness would be very difficult so on that basis, I would have her moved. Similarly if I wanted her to receive some sort of treatment and my mother was not able to make the decision then I could as her next of kin with lasting power of attourney put that in place. This is why we have had it done. All I was saying is who pays the fee for the lasting power of attourney,, surely the person with the most money pays the fee and that is my mum. She said she had a long chat with her solicitor and told him quite emphatically she could not pay the fee so she wanted me to pay it, despite the fact that I told him that she has £20k. He did not want to know about that, all he was interested in was getting his fee however and from whoever paid it. All he kept saying to me on the phone was....Your mother said she cannot pay it and has asked me to recover the fees from you.....
 

Katrine

Registered User
Jan 20, 2011
2,837
0
England
Totally agree with Fiona. Perhaps you could help your mum to arrange for a standing order from her bank account to pay this solicitor in installments, rather than you paying it?
All he kept saying to me on the phone was....Your mother said she cannot pay it and has asked me to recover the fees from you.....
The solicitor knows perfectly well that she cannot make promises on your behalf that you will pay her debts. What a blooming cheek! Recover the fees indeed, as if you are her debtor!

Oh dear, this makes the POA relationship strained from the very beginning. Perhaps your mum thinks that the attorneyship is the same as being a beneficiary of her will, whereas those are two totally separate things. There is absolutely no financial reward for being an attorney, other than claiming for expenses necessarily incurred in carrying out your attorney duties (phone calls, postage, travel expenses etc.).

Remind your mum that if you have to act as her attorney you will be doing this for free, and that your duty lies in helping her with her finances and affairs when it becomes necessary. So sad when a parent feels the need to use emotional blackmail and to invoke the word 'duty', rather than accepting your help and love. Been there, got the T-shirt. :(
 
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FifiMo

Registered User
Feb 10, 2010
4,703
0
Wiltshire
Poster,

I am agreeing with you that your mum, as the one who is granting the power of attorney (be it for property and finance alone or together with health and welfare), is the one who should fund the cost of putting this in place. Who was it who hired the lawyer? If it was your mum who did this then she should be liable to pay him. I can't understand why the lawyer is coming after you for payment, unless they are chancing their luck, given that your mum is refusing to pay.

I wish you luck in getting this sorted, but if it was me I would part with a penny of my own money until someone showed me why I was liable to pay and not my mother.

Fiona
 

jenniferpa

Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
39,442
0
Have you actually signed anything regarding that "paying it in installments" thing? Because if you haven't I would contact the solicitor again and say that he will have to recover the fees from your mother in the normal way.

Everyone is correct - your mother is the one who should be paying these fees. Even if you were a millionaire she would still be legally responsible for paying those fees.

I assume that you are referring to both an LPA for finances and an LPA for welfare. You really need both for the future.
 

Katrine

Registered User
Jan 20, 2011
2,837
0
England
P.S. (Still seething about the cheeky solicitor) - perhaps you don't realise that YOU have the upper hand. As far as your mum is concerned, you are a very cheap date. Unless some other willing friend or relative is prepared to take on her affairs for the duration, for FREE, her only other alternative would be to appoint a solicitor as her Attorney, in which case they are entitled to charge fees for everything they do and will happily work their way through the entire £20K and take the residue to wind up her estate when she dies. I expect you already know how much a solicitor charges per hour?

Sorry, that may not be helpful, but it might be an argument to use with your mum, who is obviously keen on protecting her nest egg.
 

FifiMo

Registered User
Feb 10, 2010
4,703
0
Wiltshire
I did have a thought...a cheeky one maybe.....but you could apply and register the LPA then you could legitimately pay for the solicitor's fees out of her money as the LPA would give you authority to do that.

Just a thought...

Fiona
 

poster

Registered User
Dec 28, 2011
190
0
When my mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia she was advised by her doctor to have Lasting Power of Attourney so that in the event that she deteriorated, I could make decisions on her behalf. She already had a solicitor who she used to change her will and so she just contacted him and asked if he could sort out the lasting power of attourney and he did. He gave me the figures for the fees which I gave to my mum and she said she did not have the money to pay for it and so I would have to pay it and told her solicitor and then he spoke to me and more or less reiterated that and said he wanted his fee paid. He did not say she should pay. I don't think he cares where the money comes from as long as it is paid.
 

poster

Registered User
Dec 28, 2011
190
0
Thanks for the useful responses. I have decided to seek help from the Citizens Advice Buerau before handing over any money. This is bound to cause a lot of grief to my mother and no doubt she will call me an uncaring selfish daughter but I want to get my facts correct before parting with any money.
 
OK, let's get down to basics over these solicitor's fees.

The solicitor has provided a service to your mother and she has agreed that he will be paid a fee.

There are two ways in which this can be interpreted.

The first is that there's a valid contract whereby he agrees to provide a service to your mother and she agrees to pay him, in which case it is the solicitor and your mother who are parties to that contract, not you, and therefore you have no legal liability under the contract.

The second is that the contract has failed because the parties are not "ad idem" (do not have the same intention) and did not both intend to create legal relations between them. I.e. the solicitor intended a contract in which your mother was responsible for his legal fees and your mother intended a contract in which you would be responsible for his legal fees. If this is so, the solicitor is stuffed, especially since he should know better.

Either way, it's not your problem. You didn't enter into a contract with the solicitor, your mother did, and if he wants his money, it's her he's got to go after.

If he chases you up over the fees, send him a clearly worded letter pointing out that you were not his client, did not instruct him and at no time agreed to be responsible for the fees. If he continues to pursue you, report the matter to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. See here for contact details - http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/choosingandusing/redressscheme.law
 

poster

Registered User
Dec 28, 2011
190
0
Atually to be frank, I was put on the spot. I was asked by my mother to phone the solicitor to sort out payment. She spoke to him in the beginning to sort out the lasting power of attorney. She got the necessary signatures on the document and that was that. She the said that since I was the one who was acting on her behalf in the event of her being unable to be mentally coherent, then that was when her involvement in the matter ceased and since she did not feel able to pay the fee, she wanted me to take the matter over and discuss anything else with the solicitor myself. She told me that since I was her next of kin and the fee needed paying, the there was only me who could deal with it and pay it. When I spoke to the solicitor and he said she was not able to pay it, I kind of said ok I will pay it then. What else could I say? He reminded me that he sent me an email with the fees and we went ahead and got the documents drawn up so in other words we knew what we were getting ourseves into and if we thought we could not pay the fee we could have pulled out and stopped the LPA from being done but he indicated that it was too late now to back out and that he wanted payment from someone and he was not bothered who.

I do remember my grandmother when she was still alive being financially supported by members of her family so I just assumed that is what people did when their parents got old and did not have any money. I would like to point out however that my grandmother owned her own house and yet she was still helped financially.... why I dont know (I was only a kid at the time). but there were 7 chidren in my grandmothers family and so they all chipped in together and they were all quite well off so supporting her financially was not a hardship. I am not well off and am on my own and have no siblings. Yes I can pay my own way but I do not own my own property and have to budget carefully if I want to save for a holiday.
 

jenniferpa

Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
39,442
0
I know you say she is competent currently to deal with her own financial affairs but I have to say - the behaviour you describe and its unreasonableness could be down to her dementia.

I think you are wise to consult CAB - I would agree totally with Petrina (and as a side bar I just loved the "the solicitor is stuffed," comment) but I suppose it's possible that they may be able to claim there was a contract if you agreed to pay. Having said that, I would be very resistant to paying but if I ended up having to, I'd seriously consider claiming the money back from your mother's assets when you finally do activate the LPA.

I do feel you have been bullied by the solicitor and your mother, and while there's nowhere you can complain about your mother (except here), I'd definitely complain about the solicitor. The firm should have a complaints procedure set up and I would be very inclined to use it.
 

nitram

Registered User
Apr 6, 2011
30,204
0
Bury
The responsibility for paying the fee depends on what agreement was made before he undertook the work, you said:-

"...When I spoke to the solicitor and he said she was not able to pay it, I kind of said ok I will pay it then. What else could I say? He reminded me that he sent me an email with the fees and we went ahead and got the documents drawn up so in other words we knew what we were getting ourseves into and if we thought we could not pay the fee we could have pulled out and stopped the LPA from being done but he indicated that it was too late now to back out and that he wanted payment from someone and he was not bothered who..."

Depending on the content of the email you may have problems if you complain.

I suggest that before complaining you think about the level of care home fees your mother will have to pay. Assuming you are in England the fee payable reduces by £1/week for every £250 of capital below £23250 (no fees below £14250), this means that if she pays the £400 she could get a fee reduction of either £1 or £2 per week depending on the exact level of her capital in relation to the £250 bands. If you think of this as a tax free return on an investment of the £400 it's a good rate of interest, either 13% or 26%. The LA should not object to spending the £400 as it is clearly in your mother's best interest to have an LPA in place.

Do you think that you could 'sell' the spending of the £400 as an investment to your mother?
 

Nebiroth

Registered User
Aug 20, 2006
3,510
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It could be the product of her dementia - since some sufferers become very obssessive over money - but your mum is being "over protective" of her nest-egg, to put it charitably. You don't have a "duty" to pay her solicitors fees, or any of her other bills come to that. It's ridiculous to have 20k in the bank and to say that you can't afford to pay a bill.

As said above, by potentially being an attorney you're doing your mum a massive favour. The alternative is either her engaging a professional - in which case her money will vanish like a snowman in the Sahara - or eventually, he rlosing the ability to manage her own affairs in which case she will probably fritter a lot of it away before social services and the courts step in and engage a professional to do it anyway, with mum having no say in the matter.

It;s also worth pointing out that hoarding her cash simply means that a lot of it is going to get eaten in care fees. As a cash asset it's virtually impossible to protect it - so effectively, she is simply ensuring she 'fails' any means tests.

As has been said, engaging a solicitor to put her affairs in order can't possibly be seen as unreasonable expenditure so maybe you can sell it as an investment. Who does your mum want in charge of her money when she is no longer capable?
 

Mariondb

Registered User
Aug 24, 2011
183
0
Some good advice here but in a nutshell, your Mother was the solicitor's client and therefore it is down to her to pay his fees not you. This was set up for her benefit not yours.

I am afraid I would be quite hard on this - she has the means to pay and is defaulting. She cannot pick and choose what she wants to pay. You, as her attorney, are there to make sure that such bills are paid to avoid her having credit problems, so act as her attorney and pay the solicitor FROM HER BANK ACCOUNT.

As an attorney it is your job to manage her affairs and that means pay her bills for her from HER FUNDS, not to pay her bills out of yours.

If the solicitor put any pressure on you to pay at all then he was wrong to do that - whether you agreed or not. If your Mother couldn't pay because she hadn't got any money at all, then frankly the POA would be pretty meaningless and the solicitor should have queried setting it up in the first place and charging you for doing so.

Tell the solicitor he will be paid and send a cheque from your Mother's account - whether you can get a refund for her is entirely secondary to her paying the bill. That is why the POA was put in place i.e. to protect her and not to lumber you with expense.

If you have already paid him, reimburse yourself with money from her account. Most importantly do not get drawn into a guilt trip on this because if she ever does run out of money then at that stage you may have to step in and subsidise her but not until.
 

Jancis

Registered User
Jun 30, 2010
2,567
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70
Hampshire
Hi Poster,
I'm sorry you have this unfortunate muddle to deal with. It's hard sometimes to detatch from the traditional obligations of duty where family are concerned. Try and imagine you are not your mother's daughter but a professional attourney. You will see the situation more clearly. It would appear that your mum cannot manage her finances and therefore it's your job to manage them for her - as Marion says she cannot pick and choose what she wants to pay. The reason why you 'kind of agreed' to pay the solicitor for her was natural enough but it isn't right or necessary. I would consider paying the solicitor from you mum's account and then when your mother sees the withdrawal tell her that her solicitor advised you that this was the way it had to be done.

Best wishes and hope you can sort this out and save your own money.
 

nitram

Registered User
Apr 6, 2011
30,204
0
Bury
It's not clear if the LPA has been registered with the OPG, if it has not poster does not have Power of Attorney, she only has a 'letter of authority' from the bank. I don't know the wording of this letter but it's clear intention was to enable her to carry out her mother's wishes as a matter of convenience.

Until the LPA is registered and her mother has been deemed to lack capacity poster has no authority to withdraw funds against the express wishes of her mother.

If poster did pay the fee from her mother's account without her mother's consent it is just possible that her mother could decide that poster is to be no longer trusted even to extent of not wanting her to act as attorney. This could lead to all sorts of problems if the LPA has not been submitted to the OPG for registration and the time for complaints has expired.

I agree that in the absence of any agreement to the contrary the cost of setting up the LPA should be borne by the mother, this is a separate issue to the solicitor exercising his right to collect the agreed fee from whoever he considers to be his client which could be either poster or her mother.

I still think that poster should try and persuade her mother to pay the fee.
 

Saffie

Registered User
Mar 26, 2011
22,513
0
Near Southampton
You need to have proof that you have less than £12k in order to get some help from the state which my mother does. She used to live in a council house and got Housing Benefit and paid no rent. You cannot get Housing Benefit for care homes so you do have to pay the rent yourself but if you are on a low income and have less than £12k then the Government will help you with some of the fees and you top up the remainder out of whtever monies you have.

I've been catching up with this thread, poster, and am a bit confused - I thought you said your mother has £20k - but here you say she has proof that she only has less that £12k. (the amount is now £14, 250).

That has no bearing on who should pay the solicitor's fees but perhaps does on whether LPA is absolutely essential , rather than the lesser Administrator role.However, surely if the LPA hasn't been registered, this will incur further costs.