Q: Our mother became frail and asked me to arrange a lasting power of attorney to handle her affairs as my sister lives abroad. Mum wanted to stay in her own home, so I organized private carers to visit daily. However, before the COVID pandemic began my sister visited Mum with a lawyer friend, demanding that she be made joint attorney with me so that I could not make decisions alone and she could ensure I wasn’t syphoning off mother’s money. Mother was upset but agreed. Now mother’s health has deteriorated. She has fallen twice whilst on her own. I’ve suggested live-in care and Mum likes the idea, but my sister says it is unnecessary. I think she wants to keep mother’s money in her estate. What can I do?
A: All attorneys have a duty to act in the donor’s best interests at all times, and to consider the needs and wishes of the donor as far as possible. In your mother’s case it seems her wish is to have a live-in carer. Further, donors should not take advantage of their position to gain any benefit for themselves, including preserving donor funds for their own future benefit.
If you are unable to get your sister to agree that a live-in carer is what your mother needs and wants, you could challenge her appointment as an Attorney through the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). The OPG can investigate whether her actions are in your mother’s best interests and if necessary can apply to the Court of Protection to take action against your sister.
This is however clearly a delicate situation as you will not want to upset your mother. In the first instance it may therefore be worth seeking advice from a solicitor who could write to your sister pointing out her legal responsibilities as a donor and to show that you have legal support and cannot be railroaded.
This question has been answered by Ulia Choudhry, a Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. In accordance with government guidelines, some of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.
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