Powers of Attorney Can Be Abused – Appoint a Professional!

It may seem tempting to choose a loved one to manage your affairs if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself. However, one case in which a woman was jailed for fleecing a 100-year-old relative of her savings showed that it is often wiser to trust a professional.

The woman had been appointed to supervise her step-grandmother’s finances under a lasting power of attorney. The law required her to perform that role selflessly for the pensioner’s benefit. However, whilst the old lady was in a nursing home, the woman transferred £105,000 from her accounts, part of which she spent on herself. She was convicted of fraud following a three-week trial and jailed for 18 months.

The facts of the case emerged as the woman challenged her conviction before the Court of Appeal. Acting in person, she argued that all her dealings with her relative’s money had been with the latter’s knowledge and consent. Although she had perhaps been disorganised, she insisted that she had not been dishonest.

Dismissing her appeal, however, the Court rejected arguments that the trial judge had failed to properly sum up the case to the jury or that she been let down by her defence lawyers. Although the woman profoundly disagreed with the jury’s verdict, that could not be a valid ground of appeal.