Katie Woodcock recently acted for sibling Attorneys involved in a dispute with a third sibling regarding their Mother who had executed an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) appointing them many years ago.
Our client’s Mother suffered with Alzheimer’s and when her health started to decline, the Attorneys made a decision to move her into a home suitable for her needs where she would receive 24 hour care. The only asset that could fund her care was the Mother’s house and a dispute arose with the third sibling as to how this would work. Shortly after the disagreement, a Deed revoking the EPA turned up, purportedly signed by the Mother.
The Case in Court
Solicitor - Estate & Trust Disputes Specialist
Court proceedings were served on the Attorneys asking the Court of Protection to revoke the EPA, authorise a “gift” of the Mother’s property to the third sibling and to appoint her as sole Attorney. Shortly thereafter, access to the Mother was denied by the third sibling.
A difficult three day hearing took place in which the Court heard evidence from medical experts and the parties themselves including the Mother. Sadly, it became quite clear that the Mother’s mind had been poisoned by the third sibling against the Attorneys and very worrying evidence showing undue influence on the part of the third sibling was presented to the Court. Furthermore, during the evidence, the third sibling constantly prompted the Mother and handwritten notes were found in the witness box.
The Court handed down a preliminary judgement stating that the Mother lacked capacity, the third sibling had unduly influenced her and that she was considering making a costs award against the third sibling. Furthermore, the Judge expressed great concern that the Mother had not received any independent legal advice through the course of the proceedings. The Judge noted that the Attorneys Solicitors (McMillan Williams) had tried to encourage the third sibling to take her Mother to a solicitor but she did not heed our advice. The Judge ordered that the Official Solicitor now step in to give legal advice to the Mother and, as she lacked capacity, act as her litigation friend.
The parties returned to the Court twelve weeks later where the Official Solicitor agreed with our position and endorsed the concerns of the Judge. The Judge found overwhelming evidence of undue influence and this enabled her to deviate from the normal costs rules in the Court of Protection that the protected party i.e. the Mother, pays the costs. The Court ordered a significant percentage of costs be paid directly by the third sibling on account of her unreasonable conduct and undue influence. This represents a great result for the Attorneys and indeed, a significant success in this very difficult area of law.
We Can Help
There are 850,000 people in the UK with Alzheimer’s and with an ever aging population this figure is only set to increase. Issues faced by Attorneys and vulnerable individuals are on the rise and it is important to know where to turn when things don’t go according to plan. Vulnerable individuals are targets for financial abuse and Katie Woodcock and Sharon Bell both have considerable experience and a keen interest in this work.
At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including Attorneys who are experiencing difficulty in dealing with the affairs of a loved one. If you think that someone you know needs protecting, please call our specialist Estate & Trust Disputes Team. Our dedicated and experienced Solicitors will happily discuss your case on a no obligation basis. Please get in touch with Katie Woodcock or Sharon Bell on 020 3551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback.