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Ask The Legal Expert - Options To Safeguard Your Finances As You Get Older

View profile for Mike Downey
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I am a part-time carer for my elderly mother, who is physically frail, but mentally sharp. She and my sister have been estranged for decades, but she has approached mum recently to ask her for a large loan. My mother is considering agreeing to this, since my sister has suggested she will be able to meet her grandchildren if mum helps her settle debts. I can understand why mum is tempted, at this stage of life, to give in to my sister’s repeated approaches. But I fear she will be left penniless if she does so. Can I do anything?

Situations like these are very upsetting for everyone concerned, but they are not uncommon. Clearly, your mother is free to spend her money as she chooses. However, if she has difficulty making her wishes known, she may be vulnerable to abuse.

If you are able to have a frank conversation with her, I would advise that you explain your concerns. Try not to use emotive language that may make her feel pressured further. Instead, suggest she consults a legal professional, who will talk her through her options in an impartial way.

These approaches from your sibling could, in legal terms, be construed as financial abuse. Financial abuse involves a violation of somebody’s rights regarding their finances or assets. This includes being defrauded, having money or property stolen, or being pressured regarding money or property.

There are a number of ways to minimise the risk of financial abuse, including:

  • Putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This allows adults who can, at present, manage their affairs some or all of the time, to arrange for people they trust to make decisions for them, later on, if they cannot do this themselves. An LPA allows those appointed people to make decisions on financial and health and welfare issues. An LPA is a sensible precaution even for those who already have a Will in place. 
     
  • Putting in place a deputyship, via the Court of Protection. This allows trusted family members, friends or other appointed professionals to handle financial, health, or welfare matters if a vulnerable person doesn’t currently have the capacity to do so. It is common for a solicitor to act as a deputy under the Court of Protection, and a deputyship would see key decisions about your mother’s affairs scrutinised, to ensure they are in her best interests. 

For specialist legal advice, call Mike Downey on 02920 855277 or email: mike.downey@jcpsolicitors.co.uk.

For further advice, please contact our specialist Lifetime Planning Solicitors in:

This question is based on a hypothetical situation.

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