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Judge Protects Dementia Sufferer from 'Hopeless Stepson'

A judge has stepped in to protect the interests of an 80-year-old dementia sufferer whose stepson – whilst affectionate and attentive to his physical needs – had proved ‘hopeless’ at managing his property and financial affairs.

Prior to moving into a care home, the widower signed an enduring power of attorney in favour of his stepson and stepdaughter. That imposed duties upon them to manage his affairs for his benefit. However, the siblings were bitterly estranged and the stepson had, in practice, acted as sole attorney.

At the stepdaughter’s behest, an inquiry was launched by the Office of the Public Guardian, which oversees the welfare of those unable to look after themselves. Investigators discovered that the stepson had, amongst other things, been mingling the pensioner’s funds with his own and using his credit card.

The stepson insisted that he had always acted with the widower’s interests at heart and the judge accepted that he had been loving and attentive. However, he ruled, “That is not the point. He has been a hopeless attorney and he has broken almost every rule in the book. I sense that he has done so wilfully.”

The stepson was stripped of his power of attorney, with the result that his sister took over sole management of the pensioner’s affairs. However, the judge warned that, if the hostility between the siblings continued to prejudice the widower’s welfare, a professional would be appointed in place of the stepdaughter as a last resort.