These financial abuse cases come along with depressing regularity. On the last one I wrote about, I made the suggestion that the pamphlet of guidance provided to those people who were appointed as attorneys/ deputies to manage the financial affairs of their vulnerable relative should have on the front cover “It’s not your fucking money”
I have changed my position. That succinct advice should instead be tattooed across the back of the Attorney/deputy’s right hand.
Re ARL 2015
This was decided by long-standing favourite of Suesspicious Minds, Senior Judge Lush.
Here are some of the things that the Attorney (the son of the vulnerable person) did with his mother’s money
The application was accompanied by a witness statement made by Sophie Farley, who had investigated the case at the OPG. To summarise, she said that:
(a) On 18 July 2014 concerns were raised with the OPG regarding ICL’s management of his mother’s property and financial affairs.(b) There was a debt of £39,000 in respect of unpaid care fees, which ICL was unwilling to pay because he believed that his mother should be receiving NHS Continuing Health Care.
(c) ICL was also in dispute with Hertfordshire County Council and claimed that ARL had been placed in the nursing home in Radlett without his consent. He had instructed Newlaw Solicitors in Cardiff to apply for compensation on his behalf.
(d) He was not providing ARL with an adequate personal allowance.
(e) It was not known known when he had last visited her, but it was thought to have been some time in 2013.
(f) In May 2013 ICL sold ARL’s house in Wheathampstead for £265,000 and used £174,950 from the net proceeds of sale to purchase a flat in his own name in Wheathampstead High Street. The OPG had carried out a search at the Land Registry, which confirmed that ICL is the registered proprietor.
(g) The difference of approximately £90,000 between the net proceeds of sale and the purchase price of the flat had been credited to ICL’s business account, rather than to an account in ARL’s name.
(h) The OPG wrote to ICL on 4 August 2014 asking him to account fully for his dealings with his mother’s finances.
(i) He replied a fortnight, on 18 August, later saying that he had far too many other things to deal with at that time.
(j) He said he was going to meet someone from Labrums Solicitors for advice on his responsibilities under the LPA, “which are now becoming too onerous.”
(k) He has only produced bank statements from October 2012 to October 2013, and an inspection of the bank statements he did produce revealed that he had spent at least £6,641 in a way that was not in ARL’s best interests.
(l) He had failed to account fully for his dealings.
(m) A Court of Protection General Visitor (Christine Moody) saw ARL on 15 August 2014 and confirmed that she has dementia and lacks the capacity to revoke the LPA
Now, under my methodology of hand tattooing, he would have been in no doubt that spending £175,000 of his mother’s money on a house for himself was not on, because when he signed the paperwork it would have been staring him in the face. Mandatory tattooing.
If this man does happen to have in his possession a mug that reads “Best Son Ever” or similar, it should be confiscated from him, and smashed to pieces in front of him. In fact, if the legend is not “Statistically within the bottom 1 % of sons ever” or “not quite as bad a son as Nick Cotton out of EastEnders”, smash it up.
Anyway, let’s see what his explanation for all of this was (the “too long; didn’t read” version is “I needed money, and she had money, so I spent her money” – to which, I would refer him to the tattoo that reads “It’s not your fucking money”. Sigh. )
“I admit that some of the remaining funds have been used for personal outgoings for me and my family. This was because of difficult personal circumstances. As previously stated, I am fully prepared to pay back the entire amount that I have borrowed from my mother as soon as the sale of my former matrimonial home has completed. In the interests of complying with my duties as an attorney, I set out as far as possible an honest account of the remaining funds:
(a) I was caught drink driving in February 2013 and accordingly I borrowed £3,380 from my mother’s funds to cover my legal costs of defending my position (£2,640) and other related costs such as court fees (£500) and a penalty fine (£240). I attach letters confirming these costs sent to me by Freeman & Co. Solicitors and Sweetmans Solicitors.
(b) I ran out of money in April 2013 and had to borrow £7,500 from a friend, Mrs Pollard, in order to keep afloat financially. I repaid my friend this sum from my mother’s funds.
(c) I was required to pay a deposit of $1,500 (approx. £995) to secure my son’s place at university in the USA and I borrowed my mother’s funds to cover this.
(d) I was also required to cover my son’s college fees whilst he was studying in the USA totalling £7,500. I paid these fees in instalments from my mother’s funds.
(e) I sent £300 to my son on a monthly basis whilst he was living in the USA. These payments totalled £2,400.
(f) I also paid for my son’s flights to and from the USA during his year abroad and also for flights for myself to visit him in the USA totalling £2,774.
(g) During a visit to the USA to see my son in August 2013, I spent a total of $630 (approx. £418) on accommodation and £500 on sundry expenses.
(h) I also paid for my son’s car insurance from my mother’s funds totalling £4,757.17.
(i) During the summer of 2013 I borrowed £6,300 of my mother’s funds for works to my former matrimonial home.
(j) As previously mentioned, JJT borrowed £2,500 of my mother’s funds.
(k) I cannot specifically account for the remainder of the £90,050. However. I am sure that, save for the £2,500 borrowed by my sister, it would have been used by me in order to cover the living costs of my family.
Now, of course, it is utterly reasonable to raid your mother’s finances, which you’ve been entrusted to manage on her behalf in order to defend yourself when you get caught drunk-driving, and then to pay the fine. I mean, why would you use her money to pay her actual living expenses and nursing fees, when you can be paying your drink-driving fines with it?
It is also of course utterly reasonable to not provide your mother with a living allowance out of HER money, but instead use HER money to pay for your SON to have a living allowance whilst he is at College in America.
He also claimed that he didn’t know that the house he purchased with his mother’s money was registered in his name. Of course he didn’t.
(e) Until completion of the purchase of the flat in the High Street had taken place, he hadn’t realised that the property was held in his name. He said, “I have subsequently made enquiries of the conveyancer who dealt with the purchase of the property, who confirmed that, as I completed a summary of instructions in my own name, this is the name in which the property was purchased.”
(f) He said it was always the intention that this property was purchased for the benefit of his mother and that he would be happy for the property to be transferred into her name.
As ever with financial abuse cases, I find myself looking at the regulations for the provision that says that a deputy who does this shall be placed in stocks in the town centre for a period of forty days and be pelted with rancid fruit, but it seems to have been wrongly omitted from the regulations.
Let’s be really clear. Someone who loves and trusts you isn’t able to manage their money for themselves, so they ask you to look after their money for them. And you take that love and trust and repay it by using THEIR money to pay your drink driving fines and buy yourself a house, whilst at the same time running up £39,000 of debts on her behalf in unpaid care fees. I hope that there really is a special circle of hell for people like this.
The Judge was also unimpressed with the Deputy’s behaviour, although somewhat less medieval in the sanctions than I myself would wish to be.
- In this case, ARL’s placement in the nursing home at Radlett was in jeopardy and there was a serious risk that she would be evicted because of ICL’s wilful refusal to pay her care fees. She is settled and content at the nursing home and any action or inaction that might prejudice her placement is not in her best interests.
- As is frequently observed in cases of this kind, a failure to pay care home fees, a failure to provide an adequate personal allowance, a failure to visit, and a failure to produce financial information to the statutory authorities, go hand in hand with the actual misappropriation of funds.
- In this case, ICL’s misappropriation of funds includes, but is not limited to:
(a) The purchase of a property in his own name, using £174,950 of his mother’s funds. One of my particular concerns is that ICL is currently going through an acrimonious divorce, and there is a possibility that ARL’s funds could somehow, inadvertently, become part of the settlement in the matrimonial proceedings.(b) Pocketing the rental income from the property for the last two years.
(c) The funds referred to in paragraph 16 (a) to (i) above, which by my reckoning amount to £36,524.17.
(d) ICL’s admission at paragraph 16(k) that he cannot specifically account for the remainder of the £90,500, “However, I am sure that, save for the £2,500 borrowed by my sister, it would have been used by me in order to cover the living costs of my family.”
- I have no confidence in ICL when he says, “I am fully prepared to pay back the entire amount I have borrowed from my mother as soon as the sale of my former matrimonial home has completed.” He made a similar promise on 15 January 2015, when he offered to transfer title to the flat in the High Street from his name into his mother’s name, but has done nothing about it during the last seven months.
- I find it incredible that ICL is ready, willing and able to pursue a claim against Hertfordshire County Council for unlawfully depriving ARL of her liberty, yet is pumped up with tranquillizers and was in no fit state to attend the hearing in this matter.
- I also find it curious that he has instructed so many different firms of solicitors or other providers of legal services at his mother’s expense, often to defend the indefensible:
(a) Rowlington Tilley & Associates drew up the LPA.(b) He was going to meet someone from Labrums Solicitors, St Albans, to advise him on his responsibilities under the LPA.
(c) NewLaw Solicitors, Cardiff, were advising him on his dispute with Hertfordshire County Council regarding ARL’s placement in the nursing home in Radlett and were also pursuing a claim against the NHS for Continuing Health Care.
(d) Freeman & Co., Solicitors, Manchester – The Home of Mr Loophole – had been instructed to defending him when he was prosecuted for drink driving.
(e) He also instructed Sweetmans, another firm of specialist drink driving solicitors.
(f) Taylor Walton acted for him in the sale of his mother’s house and the purchase of the flat in the High street, and in the proceedings brought against him by the Public Guardian.
- I wonder whether this is a smokescreen to ensure that no one firm or company is fully aware of the extent of his ineptitude and deceit.
- I am satisfied that ICL has behaved in a way that both contravenes his authority and is not in ARL’s best interests.
[I might comment in passing that if you ARE arrested for drink driving, and you consult “Mr Loophole” and he can’t get you off, it is throwing good money after bad to go to a second lawyer to see if they can. It seems to me that you are probably ‘bang to rights’ on the charge. Of course, when it is NOT YOUR Fucking money, I suppose it bothers you slightly less]