Why a recent case of embezzlement shouldn’t stop you from making a LPA

Published: 07/10/2013

There are fears that many people could be left exposed with a recent story playing on many people’s hesitation about making a Lasting Power of Attorney.

Lesley Reeve and her husband Andrew have been jailed for two and a half years after spending the majority of her godmother’s life savings.

Joan Killen, who is currently residing in a care home, had given the couple control of her affairs. However, instead of acting in her best interests, the couple were deemed to have used the £130,000 pot for their own personal gain.

The court heard how the couple spent thousands on clearing debts and buying a new car as well as converting their property’s garage into a wet room and gym. The pair however maintained the renovation was for Miss Killen and they had, in fact, intended it to be her bedroom.

The jury also dispelled the couple’s claim that ‘Aunty Joan’ was happy for them to spend her savings as she was going to leave everything to them anyway in her Will.

Mr and Mrs Reeve were found guilty of stealing £95,000 of savings as well as rent from a tenant living in Miss Killen’s property. Mrs Reeve was also found guilty of stealing close to £3000 in pension payments.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document where you appoint an Attorney to look after your financial and personal affairs. An Attorney is the person you appoint to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so. This may be due to an accident, disability, or the onset of an illness such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia or after suffering a stroke.

Linda Cummins, Head of Wills and Probate, is worried this story could discourage many from making a Lasting Power of Attorney:

“While this story demonstrates a clear breach of trust, and a regrettable choice of Attorney, it should not in itself deter people from the benefits of having a Lasting Power of Attorney.

“There is a real misunderstanding surrounding what happens to you and your finances should you no longer be able to look after your own affairs. The fact is without an LPA no one, not even your spouse or partner, has the automatic right or ability to take charge of your finances which, as a result, could mean critical bills, such as the mortgage, council tax or energy bills could go unpaid.”

“Many people are deterred from making an LPA as they think they won’t be able to make their own decisions if their appointed Attorney disagrees with their choice,” Linda continues. “This is not the case. You can make your LPA conditional so your Attorney can only act once you lose capacity. This means you remain in control until the time comes when you can no longer make decisions.”

Content correct at time of publication

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