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Help with elderly mother / sister issues, please.

(12 Posts)
Roseformeplease Mon 12-Jan-15 14:49:37

I am going to try to explain things as best as I can but will change a few details, just in case.

I am one of 4 siblings. I am A, ther are also B and C and then D. I live in the UK as does D. B and C live in two other non-European countries. B has children and is getting a divorce there. C is divorced, no children. My mother is divorced (and father now dead) and lives alone a long way from any of us. She is an alcoholic and housebound (with carers etc) and really clever and sharp, when sober. She is also very good at getting people to do things for her / pay for things to free up money for booze. She cannot be said to be out of control of her own affairs but she is not able to make any decisions really after about noon as this is when she starts drinking. She has 2 brothers but rarely sees either of them.

My mother owns her own flat but otherwise has a state pension, attendance allowance and nothing else. The flat was left to her and she ran through the money left (40k) in about a year. She can budget and manage but the booze wins every time. Her flat is leasehold and she often falls behind on the ground rent. She also struggles to get the managing agents (crooks, possibly) to do essential repairs.

About 5 years ago sibling B, who was very wealthy, told the rest of us that she was taking over my mother's financial affairs and would "sort" thing. We were not keen as we had been working quite hard to get her to sell the flat (citing debts as an excuse) and move closer to one of us as Sister D and I both live in cheap parts of Britain. This would free up some capital and make it easier to care for her. Sister B flew in with her husband (rich bankers) and say they got joint Power of Attorney and spent a huge amount of their money (40K?) on repairs, lawyers, clearing debts (some of which we disputed and should not have been paid) etc.

Fast forward 5 years and sister B is now getting a divorce. She is insisting that the money be repaid immediately as it now forms part of her divorce settlement and means "her" money is tied up in my mother's flat. It is no longer deemed "marriage" money. She is planning on using her Power of Attorney (which my mother says she doesn't have, or it is limited. My mother also says there is no charge over the flat) to force my mother into equity release. The flat is leasehold and only has about 30 years to run on the lease.

1. Can my sister force equity release? Can my sister's lawyers (will pm the country if it helps) or her husband's lawyers force equity release.

2. Can she use a limited Power of Attorney to sell the flat and force my mother out?

3. What should I / we (sister D and I) do?

4. Also, sister C owes B big bucks which is a separate, but linked issue.

Help, ladies, please!

Roseformeplease Mon 12-Jan-15 16:53:58


Musicaltheatremum Mon 12-Jan-15 17:45:59

Your sister cannot force your mum to do this. POA means you do what the person wants and act for them not against them.
I'm not a lawyer but I think you should try and get some legal advice or get your mum to revoke the POA
People think that POA means they can do what they want but they can't. And the welfare power of attorney doesn't come into force until the person becomes incapable of managing her affairs.
I would be getting some quick legal advice so you can stop your sister before she does anything.

Musicaltheatremum Mon 12-Jan-15 17:50:59

Just looking online and if you look up "office of the public guardian" (if you are in England or Wales) it tells you what they do. They can tell you if there is a POA registered with them (they have to be registere) and what to do if you think someone is abusing their powers. It is on the site. Good luck

Quitelikely Mon 12-Jan-15 17:53:25

You need to find out who has the deeds to that flat and who's name is on those deeds.

That's who that flat belongs to and they can sell it when they wish or only if ordered to do so by a court of law.

Roseformeplease Mon 12-Jan-15 19:17:00

Thanks so much. Have checked with Office of the Public Guardian and they have nothing registered and would only if my Mum could not manage any more. She has signed something allowing Sister B plus her exDH control over all her financial issues.

Good point that they have to act in her best interests. Clearly her best interest is to pay them back at £5 a month (or from her estate) but my sister insists she must have the money now. As far as I know my Mum is in the deeds (left to her by her parents about 12 years ago). My Mum did mutter today about changing her will which makes me wonder if they made her change it.

Can my sister or her DH's lawyers overseas force a sale through the courts and render my Mum homeless? Lots of the things they spent money on one her behalf were not necessary (brand new doors for the garage, new bathroom etc) and she would have been fine without. But, they were splashing the cash on her, freeing up money of her own for booze and she enjoyed the attention.

Can a court throw out an old lady in favour of a wealthy banker?

AmantesSuntAmentes Mon 12-Jan-15 19:26:26

As a pp already suggested, get your mum to a solicitor and the powers (such as they may be) revoked, immediately! Her will could also be addressed at the same time and a new one (with a revocation clause, wrt the old one) writted up, if appropriate.

If they have cheated her out of money, under the guise of POA, that could be addressed as soon as her current assets are safe?

Mumblechum1 Mon 12-Jan-15 19:27:47

Is it an Enduring Power of Attorney or a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Roseformeplease Mon 12-Jan-15 20:00:54

I think it is Lasting - ie not one which is because she can't manage herself. She has a document which they (both have law degrees) drew up but I don't have a copy. She is going to try to find a lawyer tomorrow.

Sadly, I think they did splash her money around and did not really act in her long term best interests, given that she has no money. We helped with ine debt (£800) but both work in public sector so are not well paid enough to sweep in and promise wads of cash.

Hard not to be caught in the middle. After all,she does owe money and my sister should be able to get it back but we had all assumed my Mum would eventually sell up and move somewhere cheaper, or it would come out of her estate.

PatriciaHolm Tue 13-Jan-15 12:00:46

What evidence do they actually have that she owes them the money back?

Roseformeplease Tue 13-Jan-15 16:13:13

Good question. They will probably have evidence of things they paid for but, in some cases, it is arguable whether their decision to do so was in their best interests.

Roseformeplease Tue 13-Jan-15 16:18:52

Sorry, "in her best interests"

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