Financial abuse of the elderly and vulnerable will never be eradicated, but it is particularly horrifying when perpetrated by those in positions of trust. In the past week, the Daily Telegraph has reported two such cases.

In the first, a 47-year-old carer disguised herself as her 81-year-old “client” and went into the local bank impersonating the older woman, attempting to withdraw £22,000 from her account. Fortunately, the counter staff became suspicious and she was arrested, later pleaded guilty to attempted fraud, and is currently awaiting a sentence.

In the second, a gardener who had persuaded his 89-year-old employer not only to give him power of attorney but also to make a will in his favour, systematically stole more than £200,000 from her as her dementia grew worse, and was only stopped when his actions aroused suspicion as he tried to en-cash an investment bond. The Court of Protection revoked the Lasting Power of Attorney and appointed a professional deputy to manage the woman’s affairs.

These two victims appear to have been quite socially isolated, which made them more vulnerable. Family members, friends or neighbours would normally act to protect such people, but increasingly isolated lifestyles will mean that growing numbers of elderly people are likely to fall victim to such abuse. Many were very astute professionals or business people in earlier life and would never have allowed themselves to be hoodwinked in this way, but in old age, they let their guard slip, perhaps through the onset of dementia.

You may already be helping an elderly relative with their affairs, but is there someone you know who has no such support but may need it? By offering to help them, or by guiding them to seek professional help, you may be able to protect them from such a disastrous experience.  They may be reluctant to pay for professional advice, but it will be a worthwhile investment if it protects their property and assets.

A few years ago I was involved in a similar case where a gardener and his wife tried to alienate a confused elderly lady from her family and applied to revoke her power of attorney by making false claims of financial abuse, and also persuaded her to change her will to benefit them. By acting quickly we were able to demonstrate that their actions were self-serving, and we re-instated the power of attorney. After the lady’s death, we were able to demonstrate that the new will was invalid and her previous will, benefiting the family as she had intended, was admitted to probate.

For more information or to talk to Valerie Bown direct regarding a similar issue affecting you or your family please call 0161 930 5151.

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