Financial abuse

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Action on Elder Abuse 9 months ago.

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  • #8188 Reply

    Sarah G

    My husband is POA for an elderly lady who was a neighbour of his late parents. This is a responsibility he inherited from his mother who was asked 16 years ago by this lady’s husband to “keep an eye on her and don’t let her spend all her money at once” (he had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness and passed away not long after) When my MIL passed away suddenly 6 years ago, my husband took over but put the whole thing on a legal footing with a POA.

    She doesn’t have dementia and is quite capable, if small and frail, but where money is concerned she’s gullible and easily influenced, which I think is why her husband asked my MIL to look after things in the first place.

    This lady has a son is “borrowing” cash from her on a regular basis. He is a very unpleasant person and although not physically abusive to her, we know he shouts at her and intimidates her. She has told us in the past that she is frightened of him and we have said that if she wants to, we can take action to keep him away from her, but she always backs down at this point and won’t follow through – she says herself that she’s like a battered wife – she knows he’s bad for her but can’t keep him away.

    My question is, as POA, what action can we take to stop her giving him her money? She likes to keep a lot of cash in the house, even though we have said it’s not safe, but she insists and as it’s her money we feel we have little choice. However, as POA, there is a duty of care and I don’t think handing over money so she can give it so her son is necessarily in her best interest.

    She is not short of food as that is taken care of by another neighbour who does all the shopping for her and who has money paid to her for that purpose and all her other bills are taken care of, so this cash is just disposable income. She never leaves the house and as I said, all her day to day expenses are being taken care of, but we feel she is being exploited by her son and would like to know what, if anything, can be done to stop this?

    Thanks in advance for any advice 🙂

  • #8346 Reply

    We understand that it is very distressing to witness this sort of coercion and to know that money this lady should be spending on herself, or saving to make provision for future care needs is being given to others.

    If you have concerns about the donor (the individual who appoints a Lasting Power of Attorney), their ability to manage their finances and are unsure of how far your responsibilities extend while they still retain mental capacity, it would be an idea to make contact directly with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). The OPG have the responsibility to regulate attorneys. Any queries an attorney may have can be directed to the OPG helpline who can help you explore your options, if any: 0300 456 0300.

    Finally, the action we always suggest is to try to explain to the older person why you are so concerned, to reassure them they are not alone and that they do not have to continue with the current situation, and that you will try to support them with any action they choose to take. Informing this lady of her options will help her to come to an informed decision on how to handle this situation. You mention that she doesn’t want to keep her son away completely – another option would be to have supervised visits. For example, ensuring someone else is at home like a friend or a family member. If he has a set of keys, perhaps change the locks so that he can’t make his way in to her home himself. To suggest she doesn’t open the door on unplanned visits from him to decrease the verbal and psychological abuse. In any instance where she feels there is a risk to her safety and is intimidated, she should not hesitate to contact the police.

    We hope you find the above information useful.

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