According to the disabled living foundation there are now more than 17 million people living in the UK who are registered as disabled. This statistic will include those with minor disabilities right through to those with severe impairment.
My father is one of these disabled people and suffers from multiple sclerosis. My father is lucky that he has family to help assist him both with his care but also in the running of his finances and what I like to call ‘life admin’. There are many people like my dad who have to rely on others to help with their everyday living. This help can come from family members, friends, or carers to name but a few. In having to place this reliance on another party a vulnerability is created and a relationship of trust ensues. This relationship can be informal or formally granted by the court.
If someone is not of capacity due to their illness, the court may appoint a deputy to act on their behalf. This deputy will act to make decisions on behalf of the deputee, these decisions may relate to finances, property, and care and so on. When the court appoints a deputy they will dictate the level of authority granted. If someone does have capacity but deems it necessary to seek help with their finances and property or care, then a lasting power of attorney (LPA) can be set up. This involves an application to the court to appoint someone to help make decisions. With an LPA or a deputyship the relationship is governed by the court and if abused the court has the power to revoke the order and seek redress.
A deputy or an attorney can be a professional person, i.e. a solicitor, or can be a family member or a friend. In both of these situations a relationship of trust is granted. Sadly it is becoming increasingly common that this relationship of trust is abused. It seems to be a weekly occurrence that incidents appear in the press. Something has to be done. Prevention is better than cure and it is important that arrangements are in place to ensure the disabled have help with their finances and property. If you need help setting up a deputyship or an LPA please contact us.
When people think about financial abuse of the vulnerable thoughts go to misselling or fraud by unscrupulous individuals, the reality is however that financial abuse often happens at the hands of trusted friends, family member and carers. Financial abuse can take many forms, in its most obvious form it is the theft of monies. Financial abuse can also be expenditure of monies not in the best interest of the disabled or the mixing of monies with the monies of family/ friends/carers or the making of unauthorised gifts to name a few. If you are concerned that someone you know may be being financially abused please get in touch. Steps can be taken to stop the abuse and try to recover monies and/or assets which have been taken.
People with disabilities There are over 6.9 million disabled people of working age which represents 19% of the working population. There are over 10 million disabled people in Britain, of whom 5 million are over state pension age. There are two million people with sight problems in the UK.