Martin Terrell was appointed as Deputy for CD while she was the subject of welfare proceedings in the Court of Protection.
We were alerted to the possibility of financial abuse by a neighbour who had befriended CD in the community. The deputy was directed by the Court to establish the extent of CD’s estate and we conducted a forensic analysis of CD’s bank accounts. It was discovered that CD had transferred her home and made a Will in favour of the neighbour; monies transferred to him amounted to over £400,000.
An application was made for an emergency interim statutory will (which was approved to ensure that new executors were appointed). Other beneficiaries were tracked down and were able to provide evidence as to CD’s wishes and interests, although the main residuary beneficiary who lived in Australia had herself lost capacity. The Official Solicitor represented CD. On a substantive application, there were extensive without prejudice discussions and consideration of litigation risk and an agreed statutory will was approved by the Court.
The case showed the complex interaction between the Court’s welfare jurisdiction and its property and affairs jurisdiction as well as the limited ability of a deputy to recover property through civil proceedings where the victim cannot give evidence and the property in issue is no longer in existence or capable of being recovered.
The lesson is that prevention is better than cure. Good advice at an early stage is crucial and everyone involved professionally with vulnerable adults, especially solicitors, financial advisers, banks staff, social workers and doctors needs to play their part in this.