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 which could include unduly influencing them to spend or gift money; threatening them or taking money without their permission.
Alternatively, financial abuse can occur by failing to provide money or withholding it. Financial abuse sadly can often be perpetrated by a friend or family member, particularly through a Deputyship Order or Power of Attorney, where a person has a legal authority to access your accounts. Being appointed an Attorney or Deputy does not give that person permission to do whatever they like and under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, Deputies and Attorneys 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 to 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.
The Office of the Public Guardian can make an application to the Court of Protection to remove a Deputy or Attorney and appoint a new one. The Court of Protection or Office of the Public Guardian may also consider referring the matter to the Police for criminal charges resulting in a sentence and possible Compensation Order. If the Court orders for the surety Bond to be called in on a Deputyship Order the Insurance Company may then bring proceedings against the Deputy for recovery of the sums they have paid out.
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 and assist with a Court of Protection Application if necessary.
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.