Is it Right to Steal from Your Parents?

Posted by on Jul 3, 2014 in Legal Services | Comments Off on Is it Right to Steal from Your Parents?

Is it Right to Steal from Your Parents?
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Many grown up children are given the opportunity to look after their parent’s financial (and perhaps welfare situations) when those parents are getting closer to the time when they may not be able to make those decisions alone. Does this provide the opportunity for children to steal from their parents?

A Lasting Power of Attorney is the legal document where an individual gives someone else, or a number of people, access to all of their finances so that actions can be taken for the benefit of the person giving away the power.

Unfortunately, some receivers of the power see this as an opportunity to take money from bank accounts and other financial institutions, and use it for their own pleasures. This is morally and legally against the wishes of those giving away the facility to manage the funds, to people they trust.

A recent case, reported in the Daily Mail, saw a court to hear how a daughter stole £70,000 of her father’s life savings after he was moved into a care home. The daughter received a suspended jail term, but has claimed all along that her father did not object to how she used his money. Is this the same as giving her the money now? Nevertheless, the £100,000 of life savings should have been spent on care fees (as per the legal agreement) and when the money ran out to pay the fees, the local authorities were involved in an investigation, which led to the court appearance.

The judge said that there was a public interest in maintaining the integrity of a power of attorney. When people lose the ability to control their own affairs, others must manage their money for them.

This raises a number of questions, which can be seen clearly in the comments left by individuals who have different opinions about the daughter’s actions. Would the father have wished the daughter to have spent the money on herself?

Mandy of Birmingham, said;

Last year my mother in law went into a home and I had power of attorney. Although my hubby and I were struggling financially not once did we ever take any of her money as it was not our money and even if she said she didn’t mind she was not in the right state of mind to make such a decision. When she passed away nothing was owed to anybody and we could account for every single penny. We did this because we loved her and wanted to make sure she was cared for.

A mother from Sussex, said;

Did she really steal or perhaps another way of looking at it was she spent what would have been her inheritance if the state paid her father’s care home bills. Presumably he worked and paid taxes all his life so should have been able to pass some down to his daughter. This story could be looked at as a lesson in estate planning.

Nicky from Surrey, said;

As someone who has worked hard all my life, own a modest house and have a small amount of savings, I would rather my children spent all my money on themselves – using their power of attorney – than having to pay my care home fees when others, less prudent, receive their care free. I am not defending this lady, but it does appear that her father wanted her to spend some of his money on herself, probably not all of it, but who knows what was agreed between them.

Whatever your thoughts are, a person gives away their power of attorney because they either cannot make decisions easily now or will not be able to in the near future, and they rely on a person’s trust to be able to manage the finances as though the person giving away the power is still in control of it.

There are separate arguments about whether all of your savings (except for an amount you are allowed to keep) should go to pay your care home fees, because if you have no savings or have not bothered to prepare yourself for this part of life, the state will pay everything for you.

This should not put you off preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney. As soon as you can, and by preferably allocating two or three people to perform together as your attorney, there is a check system in place so that they are all ensuring that everyone carries out their duties correctly.

The two related articles are from the USA, but the content is remarkably similar to what happens in the UK; just a different set of words and phrases used.

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