Court Rules On Inheritance

Attorneys have a duty to act in the best interests of the Donor (person who gave them the Power to act as Attorney).  This includes only making gifts which the Donor would ordinarily have made for seasonal purposes and only then with regard to the Donor’s funds at the time.

A Court has recently made a judgement in a case where an Attorney (a son of the Donor) made payments to himself, his family and carers, and only later sought Court approval.  The payments totalled nearly £100,000 and were made between January 2011 and November 2017.  The Office of the Public Guardian, which oversees Attorneys, requested that the matter be considered by the Court.

The application for Court approval of the payments was opposed by the Donor’s other son.

The Court was very clear that Attorneys should be aware of their role and responsibilities.  They should not take advantage of their position and should not allow their personal interests to conflict with their duties.

In this case, the Court ruled that around £45,000 of the payments could not be approved by the Court.  The Court also confirmed that they had no jurisdiction to order the Attorney to repay the money directly and it would serve no purpose for anyone to try and do so as the Attorney did not have the funds.  The Court therefore decided that the unauthorised payments should be treated as part of the Attorney’s share of his father’s estate when he died so effectively he will have had an advance on his inheritance.

The Court also expressed a wish that the family of the Attorney would now concentrate on spending valuable time with the Donor.