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What Is Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse is not something that features on everybody’s radar…

…unlike other types of abuse, there are no obvious physical signs but the damage can be just as devastating. So, what is it?

Financial abuse is using someone else’s money improperly or influencing them to spend or gift money, that’s not in their best interest, threatening them, or taking money without their permission.

Financial abuse can also occur by withholding money, failing to pay bills, or care that is needed.  Financial abuse sadly occurs by a friend or family member, particularly through a Deputyship Order or Power of Attorney, where a person has the legal authority to access your accounts.

Being appointed an Attorney or Deputy does not give that person permission to do whatever they like they must always act in the best interests of the person they are looking after.  This is a duty and a responsibility.

Both Deputies and Attorneys have limited power and if there is any question of whether an act is in the best interests of the person, authority should be sought from the Court by making an application.

There are also serious consequences for an Attorney or Deputy acting improperly and in breach of their duties and responsibilities.  Anyone can make a tip-off to the Office of the Public Guardian to investigate a Deputies or Attorney’s actions.

Commonly tip offs are made by:

  • Banks seeing irregular activity or overdrawn accounts;
  • the Police;
  • care homes who are not paid their fees;
  • legal advisers;
  • the Local Authority;
  • or friends and family members.

A public body or individual can make an application to the Court of Protection to remove a Deputy or Attorney, appoint a new one, and refer the matter to the Police for criminal charges resulting in a sentence and possible Compensation Order.

Often civil debt recovery actions are brought to recover money wrongfully spent or taken.

If you are unsure if you are permitted to carry out any action under a Power of Attorney or Deputyship Order our specialist team can advise.

Equally, if you are concerned about how an Attorney or Deputy is managing someone else’s affairs, we can help to resolve and put an end to the abuse occurring.

Taking on the responsibility of someone else’s affairs is a big task and as an Attorney or Deputy you are entitled to seek legal advice and for such costs to be paid from the assets of the person you are responsible for.

If you don’t want that responsibility our Partners are appointed as Deputies for several of our clients and with the help of a specialist team manage the affairs of over 70 clients.

Vicki Pearce, Head of Court of Protection and a Panel Deputy says “I am regularly appointed by the court to take over running someone’s financial affairs after financial abuse has occurred.  It is sad and worrying, firstly and most importantly I have to ensure the person is safe and no further abuse can occur.

Thereafter it’s a difficult task to understand the circumstances and try to recover monies and assets whilst maintaining relationships if they are safe to continue.”

Call us today for initial advice – if nothing else we can put your mind at rest