s Top barrister says people with dementia at high risk of financial abuse
Entirely Law


Tuesday June 11 2019

Top barrister says people with dementia at high risk of financial abuse

Ruth Hughes spoke at Frenkel Topping's Deputy Day event

Top barrister says people with dementia at high risk of financial abuse

A leading barrister recently revealed that elderly people, particularly those who suffer from dementia, are particularly likely to be financially abused.

Ruth Hughes from 5 Stone Buildings Chambers spoke at the London Deputy Day 2019 conference, an event dedicated to educating professional deputies, teaching them best practice and sharing relevant legislation updates.

Professional deputies act on behalf of people who are unable to act for themselves, often following a life-changing accident. They could be lawyers, accountants or in some cases, a family member, and they handle the financial affairs of people with reduced capacity, as well as help to make key decisions for them.

Said Ruth: “Financial abuse is becoming, sadly, an increasingly prevalent problem.

“People who have dementia are particularly at risk of financial abuse because they may be lonely or vulnerable – but primarily because they cannot manage their own financial affairs and thus would require a deputyship. Through that, they can be persuaded to make inappropriate gifts, wills or lasting powers of attorney.

“Unfortunately, however, there are many more types of people at risk – generally speaking, most people who would require a deputy to act on their behalf could be open to financial abuse.

“Family members or “friends” who have been given power over property and finances can abuse the trust placed in them, or manage their finances or property incompetently, or neglect to act at all. Such action can mean that vulnerable people are left without the resources they need, and their quality of life is significantly reduced.”

Financial abuse is defined as “the illegal or unauthorized use of a person’s property, money, pension book or other valuables (including changing the person’s will to name the abuser as heir), often fraudulently obtaining power of attorney, followed by deprivation of money or other property, or by eviction from their own home.”

Ruth described a case in which someone had suffered a brain injury, and appeared fully competent – but, in fact, his decision-making skills and ability to accurately assess situations had been severely damaged.

Once he had received the large settlement sum awarded to him for his injury, he considered it to be “like winning the lottery”, and boasted to his friends about how much money he had.

He obtained a large amount to spend on a gift for his daughter, but spent it elsewhere and also bought himself a van – despite not being able to drive.

His behaviour as a result of his brain injury left him vulnerable to financial abuse.

This presented a complex problem to Ruth, as she explained: “It raises the question – in instances such as these, should the claimant in fact be told about the amount of money they have been awarded? In this case he was not.”

“Legal action can be taken to recover the funds of those who have suffered financial abuse, but often, the money has been wasted or put beyond reach.”

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as Ruth offers some sound advice for people seeking deputyship:

“Using a professional as an attorney limits the risk of abuse very substantially.”

“Make sure you do as much due diligence as possible and ensure you are working with someone who has a demonstrated history of protecting the needs and interests of vulnerable people.”

Under a new UK directive, the impact of financial abuse will be legally recognised as domestic abuse and can be reported as a crime. Legal guidance for prosecutors will be changed to ensure cases of financial abuse can be successfully prosecuted where appropriate.

Deputy Day is hosted each year by Frenkel Topping, a specialist independent advisor. It advises many of the UK’s leading law firms and barristers on settlements and investments for their clients – and manages the finances of people who are unable to act for themselves following life-changing accident or personal injury, who therefore may be vulnerable to financial abuse.

"Legal action can be taken to recover the funds of those who have suffered financial abuse, but often, the money has been wasted or put beyond reach."
Ruth Hughes

DISCLAIMER: The statements, opinions, views and advice expressed in this article are those of the author/organisation and not of ENTIRELY. This article should represent information correct at the time of publication however whilst every care has been taken to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. ENTIRELY will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article or any information accessed through this site. The content of any organisations websites which you link to from ENTIRELY are entirely out of the control of ENTIRELY, and you proceed at your own risk. These links are provided purely for your convenience and do not imply any endorsement of or association with any products, services, content, information or materials offered by or accessible to you at the organisations site.

Discover our Industry Magazines

Discover our UK Regional Magazines

North West Business News, Jobs and Events | Entirely North West UK
East of England Business News, Jobs and Events | Entirely East England UK
Ireland Business News, Jobs and Events | Entirely Ireland
London Business News, Jobs and Events | Entirely London UK
Midlands Business News, Jobs and Events | Entirely Midlands UK
North East Business News, Jobs and Events | Entirely North East UK
Scotland Business News, Jobs and Events | Entirely Scotland
South East Business News, Jobs and Events | Entirely South East UK
South West Business News, Jobs and Events | Entirely South West UK
Wales Business News, Jobs and Events | Entirely Wales
Yorkshire Business News, Jobs and Events | Entirely Yorkshire UK

Kuits Solicitors

Manchester Solicitors Kuits is one of the leading corporate and commercial law firms in the North West. Our approach is to work closely with our clients to understand their needs and objectives. By doing so we are able to provide tailored legal solutions.

Aaron and Partners LLP

Law Firm

Aaron Partners LLP is a leading UK law firm based in Chester and Manchester.With a total of 23 recommendations in the two leading independent legal directories covering all of our main areas of expertise we provide trusted advice to a wide range of businesses, charities, public bodies and high net worth individuals across the North West and beyond.

Hill Dickinson

Hill Dickinson LLP is a leading and award-winning international commercial law firm with more than 1,400 people including 190 partners, with offices in Liverpool, Manchester, London, Chester, Sheffield, Piraeus and Singapore. The firm delivers advice and strategic guidance spanning the full legal spectrum.

Hampson Hughes Solicitors

Hampson Hughes Solicitors are specialists in no win no fee personal injury compensation

Cassell Moore Solicitors

Cassell Moore is a leading multi-national law firm, providing first-rate legal and strategic support to our diverse client base of public and private sector businesses and individuals. Our professional, friendly and commercially aware team has secured Cassell Moore a strong nationwide presence and reputation as client centric problem solvers. The Firm is headquartered in the iconic Grade I listed Edward Pavilion at the historic Albert Dock, Liverpool and maintains offices in the leading