Deputyship Order and Statutory Will Case Study

Author:
Jack Bradford
Private Client Paralegal
Date:
18/04/2019

Client Situation

Grace Serwanga, a Partner and Private Client Solicitor with extensive experience in Court of Protection, Wills and Probate, was approached by the niece and nephew of a lady who suffered with dementia for legal advice following suspected financial abuse by her carer.

The lady, a protected party in law due to her dementia, we refer to as “P”, lived in a care home in the London Borough of Croydon, south London, and a neighbour who assisted with her care persuaded her to enter into an equity release transaction and give the neighbour several hundred thousand pounds. The neighbour, having won P’s trust, then made unauthorised payments using P’s debit card.

Transactions included frequent trips using Uber and takeaways from McDonald’s, which weren’t very typical of someone living in a care home. At the time the matter was identified, P had lost £300,000 to this “carer”.

P lacked mental capacity to manage her own financial affairs and had no idea her funds were being depleted and nothing would have been done if it wasn’t for her niece and nephew. P’s financial assets included a property with the approximate value of £500,000, several bank accounts each containing four-figure sums and an occupational pension to the annual value of £16,800. As such, a Deputy was required immediately in order to protect her against further financial abuse.

P’s family had been seeking assistance from the police and the care home, but it took a substantial length of time before criminal proceedings were started. P’s family also found evidence that suggested that P had made a new Will, revoking one that benefited her family.

The new Will was found but there was suspicion that the sole beneficiary would be the neighbour/carer, which would have entitled the neighbour to vast sums of money on P’s death.

How We Helped

Grace Serwanga made an urgent application to the Court of Protection for P’s niece and nephew to be appointed as Deputies for their aunt and for a Statutory Will application also be made. A Statutory Will is a Will made on behalf of someone who lacks the mental capacity to be able to make a Will themselves (known as having testamentary capacity) in their best interests.

Both sets of these proceedings can often be lengthy - Deputyship applications on average take 6-8 months and Statutory Will applications can take a year or longer, as the Court usually requires the involvement of the Official Solicitor to act on behalf of the protected party to advocate for their needs. The delays in processing the applications can be very frustrating for families, particularly where matters need to be attended to urgently.

The Outcome

The Deputyship Order was issued by the Court of Protection within 6 months of the application being lodged. This triggered a further application by Grace Serwanga for a Statutory Will, which was authorised within 3 months from the date of the application.

For more information see How the Court of Protection Can Help Your Family.

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