Court of Protection – Part 3
In February 2014 I wrote a series of blogs about gift giving and one of the cases I discussed was the case of GM. She has subsequently died and we now know that she was called Gladys Meek.
For ease of reference, here is the link to the blog I wrote about that case
But to recap: Gladys was married and had one daughter, both her husband and daughter died and she inherited their estates, her daughter’s under and intestacy (ie her daughter didn’t make a Will and direct where she wanted her estate to go). Gladys had an estate of around £500,000. She had 2 nieces by marriage who managed her affairs, once she became unable to do so herself.
The nieces gave themselves a number of gifts, including jewellery and handbags, as well as each buying a car and computer with Gladys money. They were advised to apply to the Court of Protection for approval of those gifts. The Court approved a small amount of the gifts, but told them to repay most of the money, although it was decided not to do anything about the repayment until the next case had finalised. This has become known as the “handbag case” apparently!!
Crucially they were also advised to apply for a Statutory Will (a Will approved by the Court of Protection). If they had been given the estate under the Statutory Will, then their debt would have been irrelevant. But the Court could have decided that due to their behaviour, they would get little or nothing. Gladys didn’t have a Will and the beneficiaries of her intestacy were relatives she had not seen in decades.
So what did the Court decide? Firstly they investigated and it was established that Gladys didn’t get on with her intestacy beneficiaries, but her daughter had had a close friend. The case was contested by the nieces and the intestacy beneficiaries, who each thought they should get something.
The Judge decided that Gladys would have been appalled by the nieces’ behaviour which he said was “tantamount to daylight robbery”! He was also not impressed by the intestacy beneficiaries, who had not had contact with Gladys in years and only recently returned to her life after she had lost capacity.
In the end the Court gave 25% of her estate to the close friend of her daughter and the remaining 75% to charities that they thought Gladys would have approved of. The nieces and intestacy beneficiaries got nothing. For the nieces, this meant that they will have to pay back £204,459.74!!
If they had applied for a Statutory Will when they were acting for her and not taken her money during lifetime, there is a good chance the Court would have granted it and they would have received something, as they were visiting and caring for their aunt. But because they chose to help themselves to her money they get nothing. The message from the Court is clear, bad behaviour will not be looked upon favourably!