Grim experiences with Court of Protection

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by AlanJohnP, May 25, 2007.

  1. AlanJohnP

    AlanJohnP Registered User

    May 25, 2007
    3
    Lancashire
    I wonder whether anyone with a relative suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia has had dreadful experiences with the Court of Protection, and whether a press campaign could be launched to highlight this issue?
    I had a Power of Attorney over my mother's affairs (she has dementia and lives in a home) but this was revoked and upon appeal a Court order was issued which involves the appointment of a receiver and ultimately homelessness for my family, as we stand to be evicted from my childhood home. The order was issued at a hearing where I stressed that I had handled my mother's assets scrupulously honestly. My "mistake" was to have mixed my own moneys with my mother's (i.e., deposited money into her account) and transferred my mother's house into my name, supposedly an unlawful act, even though I explained that this was not done to avoid care home fees. The Public Guardianship Office's literature gives no indication of the draconian powers of the Court. I have been told that I stand little chance of winning an appeal and face huge costs if I lose.
    I should be glad if anyone can help me and to hear from similar "victims".
     
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,078
    Kent
    Dear Alan,

    I hope people reading of your experience will learn a very valuable lesson.

    As a layperson, with no legal training, I understood that a POA or EPOA, whatever the label, means giving a third party the authority to manage the finances of one who is unable to manage for themselves.

    Until that person dies and probate has been granted, any money or property on his/her name is still theirs.

    To `mix` up the finances of two dufferent accounts is asking for trouble, as they are not joint accounts and never have been.

    I`m sorry to sound unsympathetic, I don`t mean to be, but when I had the EPOA for my mother, everything she owned was hers until she died.
     
  3. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Goodness, AlanJohnP, that sounds horrendous!:eek:

    I've no experience of that situation, just wanted to welcome you to TP and offer my sympathies.

    I hope someone here will be able to advise you. Have you tried th Alzheimer's Society helpline, their legal experts may be able to offer advice.
     
  4. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    12,413
    near London
    Hi AlanJohnP

    first thing is to say I'm really sorry that the situation has come to this!

    Some more details would be helpful.

    Are you talking about an Eduring Power of Attorney [EPA], or a Power of Attorney [POA]?

    Under what circumstances was it revoked? How did that come about?

    Did you check with CAB, AS, a solicitor before you did anything substantial - eg transfer of the house?

    My solicitor advised me always to pay for things out of Jan's account by cheque - not debit card - and to keep things completely separate.

    things can still be unlawful, even if done for the best of intentions, I'm afraid.

    Are you seeking legal advice - have you done so already?

    Have you tried the AS Help Line advisor on legal matters?

    What direct contact have you had with the Public Guardianship Office?
     
  5. Áine

    Áine Registered User

    Hi Alan

    I had EPA for my dad and can sympathise on a smaller level how difficult it is to keep moneys separate. I'd go to a well known supermarket chain ;) and get my dad's shopping and mine and pay for it all on my debit card, and pay for other stuff for him because I had cash in my wallet and tried to make sure he hadn't got much in his (he'd lose it) - lots of similar things because life was hard enough without trying to carry two different lots of money around with me.

    I did keep a very clear tally of what I was spending on his behalf (plus the receipts) and what and when I'd claimed it back from him. It's not an easy job though on top of everything else you have to do.
     
  6. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    12,413
    near London
    ah yes the receipts - I have drawers full of them!

    I have to say that I do the debit card thing as well - it just isn't easy to use cheques in all situations. I also have spreadsheets and Microsoft Money files full of all the transactions in case I need them.

    It is bad enough doing the caring, without needing to be a full time accountant as well!
     
  7. AlanJohnP

    AlanJohnP Registered User

    May 25, 2007
    3
    Lancashire
    comments

    Thank you for all your replies. I have sought legal advice, but things don't look good. I mixed my money with my mother's partly because I was until quite recently living mainly abroad and had no bank account in England. I deposited money into her account in order to pay for her care. I transferred the house into my name because it seemed a practical thing to do, and at the time I had no reason to believe that my own moneys would not suffice to pay for my mother's care.
    It was the local authority that "informed" the Public Guardianship Office of the situation (after I explained that we had no money left), but did not inform me first that the transfer had been unlawful (though administered by a solicitor). They also gave me no chance to rectify the situation, and in fact have never communicated with me on the matter.
    All this began when a local vicar placed my mother in a home without my knowledge and dragged in the social services. I was living abroad and had no idea my mother's mind was deteriorating so rapidly. My basic position and advice on this now would be to keep all the authorities (local, social services, Public Guardianship Office) out of the picture for as long as possible. Both "social services" and the "Court of Protection" appear to me to be Orwellian bodies that have no feelings and no idea of the impact of their decisions on people's lives.
     
  8. sue38

    sue38 Registered User

    Mar 6, 2007
    10,856
    Wigan, Lancs
    Also more and more places no longer accept cheques, I am thinking of a well known chemists, in particular.

    I can't comment specifically on AlanJohnP's situation, but I do think in these situations you can be seen to be guilty until proved innocent. If you do mix up your money with the donor's money, or do not keep receipts, it can be very difficult to prove your innocence.

    The PGO's booklet is quite clear and hopefully this is the link to it.

    http://www.guardianship.gov.uk/downloads/EPA.NP.web.pdf
     
  9. fearful fiona

    fearful fiona Registered User

    Apr 19, 2007
    723
    London
    Hello AlanJohnP,

    I feel for you because we have enough on our plates, don't we? Let's hope that the powers are sympathetic to you, they certainly should be.

    For the benefit of others reading this thread, I have EPOA for both my parents as they are both unable to manage their affairs. I have found it useful to have a debit card on their joint account and simply pay for everything they need on that. Their bank statements are sent to my address, so I can keep a careful check on things and can justify all my spending on their behalf. This avoids the need for them to worry about paying me back. If they do ask me if they owe me something, I just say that I have paid it directly which seems to reassure them although they don't really understand, I think.
     
  10. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,429
    As someone who is managing my mother's financial affairs from overseas, I have a great deal of sympathy for you over the bank account issue: it is almost impossible to obtain a UK bank account unless you are prepared to pay for something similar to an off-shore account. It's not clear from your post though: when you transferred the house from your mother to yourself, did you not make a payment for it? Because if you didn't, I can't say I'm surprised that the LA and the court of protection took the position that they did. I imagine that the house represented the major part of your mother's assets, and as such, should have been used to pay for her care, at least as the system is set up.
    I recognise that many people think this is unfair, but this is the system that everyone is labouring under.

    Jennifer
     
  11. AlanJohnP

    AlanJohnP Registered User

    May 25, 2007
    3
    Lancashire
    Dear Jenniferpa and others,
    The house was my mother's biggest asset and I had merely naively hoped that it could be overlooked, but did not withold the assets. That said, I believed that a charge could be placed on the house to allow deferred payment, and I requested this, but heard nothing from the council. Indeed a document called CRAG (Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide) states that the local authority is obliged to offer deferred payment unless the payer refuses to pay. I feel that the CofP is punishing me for having enlisted a solicitor (to transfer the house) who did not know the rules. I have since been told by other solicitors that they would never have effected such a transaction.
    As regards the Public Guardianship Office, they appear a ruthless body that cannot be reasoned with, despite my solicitor suggesting that are always amenable to discussion. Even the suggestion that I find money to pay for my mother's care and the debt accrued so far to the Council (through a loan or releasing equity or selling my own assets) falls on deaf ears, and the Court is determined to pursue the order. I quite emphatically do not want a receiver dealing with my family's finances.
     
  12. Gromit

    Gromit Registered User

    Apr 3, 2006
    187
    Edinburgh
    Hi,

    Sorry I'm a bit late at reading your posts, and I sincerely hope that this horrid mess is resolved to everyone's best interests (by this I mean you and your family).

    I note you state that the advice you have received states that the solicitor should not have allowed this transaction (did he understand the circumstances as to why you were transferring the property?). Is there anything that you can do about that too? Can it be taken up with the original solicitor in anyway - I'm just thinking that the burden of responsibility surely shouldn't sit on your shoulders alone, and that the actions you took were based on the advise of a professional which you should have been able to rely upon. Maybe the Law Society could help, I believe that solicitors are regulated. There is a Solicitors Regulatory Authority - though I think this was set up in 2007.

    Anyway here is the law society link and also the SRA link just in case they can help.

    http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/professional/conduct.law#genreg
    http://www.sra.org.uk/home.page

    It seems that you were expected to know things that weren't brought to your attention by professionals. I certainly wouldn't have been aware of the rules around EPA or POA if I hadn't been a regular visitor to this site. I am seeing a solicitor in June to set up similar, and to also discuss my parents home and setting up wills. So I will certainly be thinking of your situation.

    I feel that you have been badly let down, and that you have only been trying to do the right thing, albeit niavely, but then how else would you have known about all of these rules if no-one told you? Again, it boils down to the advice (or lack of) that you received.

    Not sure if the above is of any help, all I can offer is my sincere sympathies for the situation you are in.

    Keep your chin up, there are plenty of people on here that will no doubt be able to share their experiences and offer you some great advice.

    Take care

    Alison
     
  13. Gromit

    Gromit Registered User

    Apr 3, 2006
    187
    Edinburgh
    Also found this

    This is the complaints section of the PGO

    http://www.guardianship.gov.uk/ourcommitment/complaints.htm

    It also states that you may want to get in touch with your local MP and also the Parliamentary Ombudsman. It might be worth a shot pleading your case to both of these? See what your current solicitor thinks.

    Kindest regards

    Alison
     
  14. Natashalou

    Natashalou Registered User

    Mar 22, 2007
    426
    london
    It sounds

    an awful situation, ...presumably the main issue here is not wanting to lose the house. I assume in evicting you, this is to allow the sale and to provide money for care home fees?
    Therefore, is it not possible for you to negotiate to simply buy the home at the market value?
    This would prevent your homlessness and also prevent money being wasted on the home standing empty, and estate agent fees etc?
     
  15. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,429
    Actually, having read that, http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publication...tions/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_073650, I see no absolute obligation on the part of the LA to offer a deferred payment scheme. You might want to look at http://www.ageconcern.org.uk/AgeConcern/Documents/FS10LACHARGING-APR07.pdf which indicates that "funding may be available throught a "deferred payment agreement". Note the use of the word may.

    Jennifer
     
  16. sue38

    sue38 Registered User

    Mar 6, 2007
    10,856
    Wigan, Lancs
    I recall that there was a school of thought at one time that if the house was transferred under a POA rather than by the donor (i.e. the true owner) the donor could not be said to have deprived themselves of assets, the reason being that it was their attorney not them. This might have been a way of avoiding the house being taken into account, but this has now been discredited.

    Sue
     

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