Individual finances can become extremely complex over a lifetime and it really is essential to put your affairs in order whilst you are still fit enough to do so. In one case which proved the point, a judge had to intervene in a bitter family row to ensure that a dementia sufferer’s assets were used in his best interests.
The man, in his 80s, had enjoyed a successful business career but had a tangled private life, having married three times and fathered seven children. He had suffered a severe stroke and had been diagnosed with vascular dementia. There was no dispute that he had lost the capacity to manage his own affairs.
His youngest daughter complained to the Court of Protection – which oversees the affairs of society’s most vulnerable members – that other members of the family had taken advantage of her father’s vulnerability. Substantial sums were said to have left his account without satisfactory explanation, including a cheque for £80,000, which he had no recollection of signing, and £86,000 which had allegedly been used to pay off a daughter-in-law’s credit card bills. The daughter’s allegations were denied by four of her half-siblings, who painted her as a former drug addict who was intent on taking control of their father’s affairs for her own advantage.
The Court found that, given the complicated nature of the man’s finances and the depth of ill-feeling within his family, it was appropriate to appoint an independent solicitor to act as his deputy so as to ensure that his assets were deployed for his benefit. The Court directed that the deputy should have experience in investigating white collar crime and the recovery of misappropriated funds.