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Suspected Fraud

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  • Suspected Fraud

    Hi all,

    My sis & her partner took charge of mom's will, & became her POA. This came as a complete shock to me as they never really had much to do with her. Now mom's died, & most of her money has gone missing. Although the will hasn't yet been read, but sis said there's no money left, & her partner said there's not much money left. I'm not bothered about the money as I don't feel that I've been conned out of any inheritance, but I can't believe that they did this to my poor old mom who trusted everyone! Plus I've never believed that mom had full mental capacity during this time.
    Can anyone please advise what to do next?
    Tags: None

  • #2
    Hi Mork,

    I'm sorry for your loss. It can be really difficult when we find things out after the event, so to speak.

    Attorneys can only act before a person dies. Once they die the Will takes effect and all powers given to the Attorney during life, cease. Did your sister and her partner act under a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) that was registered with the Office of the Public Guardian or some other type of power of attorney? During the person's lifetime the attorneys must comply with the Mental Health Act and if possible always ensure the individual knows and as far as possible understands any steps they take. If you believe the attorneys have not acted in your mother's best interest it may be worth contacting the Office of the Public Guardian, although now your mother has passed away it may be difficult for them to do much other than point you in the right direction.

    Just because someone is an attorney they can't 'take charge' of another person's Will. Only the individual can give instructions for a professional to prepare a new Will and then certain criteria have to be met, ensuring the person giving the instructions understands what they are creating and the effect of any of their wishes. Of course anyone can write a Will themselves which may not meet the standards expected or there may be reason to suspect they have been forced into having the Will prepared.

    When did your mother make her Will? Was there a previous Will made that is considerably different to the current one? Who are the executors in the Will? When you say most of her money has gone missing what sort of amounts are we talking about, thousands or tens of thousands? Was there a property? Did your mother move to a care or residential home and have to pay fees? What was your mother's mental state when she made the most recent Will?

    Will readings are actually a misnomer they don't happen other than in films. If you are a residuary beneficiary then you should be able to get a copy of the Will from the executors.

    There may be an option to challenge the Will if you believe your mother was unduly influenced to change her Will but these claims can be difficult to prove and costly.

    Once we have a bit more information we may be able to point you in the right direction.
    I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

    If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi PERIDOT
      Thanks so much for the reply.
      Sorry if I didnít explain myself properly, I strongly suspected that my sister & her partner were up to no good, but never in a million years did I believe that it would end this way. They were both executors of momís will, I did warn my mom but she said that it was fine. Foolishly I thought what could possibly go wrong with a will thatís been registered with a solicitor.
      My sister & her partner both had LPA. I tried to talk to my mom about this because Ií'd noticed that mom wasn't herself as she was having memory problems. Plus mom had never liked my sisterís partner which made me wonder why on earth would she choose someone thatí she didnít like. Mom always claimed that she never asked my sister's partner to be any part of her will or LPA. Although she did say that the partner had first approached her to ask her about this. I did once see a letter the solicitor & it was in the partner's name, rather than my sister's.
      Also I contacted OPG, they investigated but said that mom knew what she was doing at the time. I believe she was forced into this, as I'd previously listened in to telephone conversations where my sister had threatened my mom that she wouldnít see her again if she didnít leave things as they were. My sister & her partner refused to speak to me, although I tried on many occasions to arrange a meeting to discuss things. So thereís no chance theyí'd allow me to see the will. They have in fact made everything as difficult as possible for me. In fact I wouldn't even have known when the funeral was if I hadn't contacted the undertaker & the vicar.
      I contacted Social Services too & they eventually agreed to get someone to come out & see mom over a number of weeks. They too insisted that she was fine, & that she didnít want to change her mind about LPA. Although mom was telling me & other family members that she was forced into it by my sister & her partner.
      Mom had a number of bank accounts, I have evidence of this. She also kept cash in the house too, usually about £5,000. Altogether I would say around £20,000 has disappeared. There was no property.
      Last edited by Mork; 20th March 2019, 13:54:PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Sorry, might I also add that mom had a funeral plan so there was nothing to pay there. Also there's the mystery of another life insurance policy which mom claimed to know nothing about. The rest of the family were asked by my sister & her partner to sign in order to release this money. I refused to sign, & contacted the insurance company who said that we wouldn't need to sign anything as one of the executors could do this. I'm sure that they would know this as they do appear to know exactly what they're doing. However, they've never given me any reason to trust them so far, so do you have any idea why they would do this?

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi again,
          So you did have concerns during your mother's lifetime and reported them to the OPG and Social Services. They had reviewed matters and in their opinion believed that mum had the capacity to make her own decisions. Is that correct?

          You also seem to imply that solicitors prepared your mother's Will. If that is the case then they should have prepared an attendance note confirming that your mother understood what she was requesting in her Will and also that she had capacity to provide the instructions and again understood the ramifications of her instructions when it came to signing the Will. It can be difficult when someone has memory issues or even has a diagnosis of dementia, for example. Even with a diagnosis it doesn't mean that someone doesn't have the mental capacity to prepare/authorise legal documents. The legal test is applied at the time of the instruction and at signing. Dementia patients can have lucid times when they would be deemed to have legal capacity and solicitors are of course aware of issues that can arise when dealing with these individuals. In the normal course of things a lawyer would follow the golden rule and if there was any doubt about someone's capacity they would obtain a Dr's report confirming or otherwise, the person's mental capacity.

          Do you know which solicitors dealt with her Will? Have you contacted your sister to request a copy of the Will?
          As far as the insurance is concerned what was the document you were asked to sign by your sister? As the insurer said the executor can apply themselves to obtain this but any amount transferred is then part of the estate to be distributed as per the Will. If your mother had nominated who the life insurance would be paid to on her death then the executors would not necessarily need to be involved other than to obtain the values for IHT (inheritance tax) form purposes, but payment would be made directly to those nominated by your mother.

          As far as money at her home is concerned it may be very difficult to prove this was at her home when she passed away unless you have cogent evidence of this. Did you see any money at the property in the days before she passed away or is this something you are just aware usually occurred but no recent sight of it?


          Sorry more queries again I'm afraid. With the amount you believe to have potentially gone missing and unless the life insurance policy was considerable you may need to consider the cost of pursuing this much further and whether it is sensible to fight on the principle. Did the insurers give any indication of the amount to be paid out in the policy when you contacted them. Probably not but they may have done.
          I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

          Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

          If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi PERIDOT,

            Yes that's correct. I was aware that my mom's behaviour changed, & believed that if there was any doubt regarding her mental capacity then the Will or LPA should never have been. Plus these people didn't know my mom like I did. I have contacted my MP regarding this matter, maybe if more people did this we could make a difference.
            The law needs changing as this system's far too easy for people to be taken advantage of.


            No, I don't know the name of the solicitor who did the will. I've tried to contact my sister on many occasions but she wont speak to me, so I've given up trying now.

            When I visited mom in hospital she asked me to go & get her money. I taped her saying this as she'd previously been saying that my sister had stolen her money Ö. So I got my phone out & began taping the conversation. Although due to my mom's mental state I'm not sure how, or if, this would stand. Mom always had money at home in a certain place, & everyone in the family knew where it was kept. The money was there when I visited her at home on the day that she died, but it had disappeared the following day. Also there was about £15,000 taken out of the bank a few weeks before she died, she would never have spent this amount of money in that time. So I'm suspecting that the executors either helped themselves, or encouraged mom to give it away to other siblings.

            I don't know how much the life insurance policy would be, but I doubt it would be much as it had only recently been taken out. I've asked the insurers, & the undertaker, but they wouldn't tell me. I understand that trying to do something about this would cost me, & cause me more heartache, & I'd probably still never be able to prove anything. It's such a great shame, as what my sister & her partner have done appears to be a legal way of stealing.

            Comment


            • #7
              Hi PERIDOT

              A cheque recently arrived from my mom's estate, but not for the amount that I believe that was stated in the Will. It was signed by my sister's partner, not from a solicitor like I imagined it would be. There was also a few badly written notes enclosed on where my mom's money had gone. However, there was no Will enclosed. I've contacted my sister asking for a copy of the Will & queried the missing money, but she hasn't replied & I'm not expecting her to.

              So where do I go from here? I'd like to contest the Will but I've not seen it recently, so how would I go about this? Social Services have a copy which they took for this very purpose, but even they wont allow me to have it, data protection ..Ö. I've put a complaint in but again haven't heard anything from them. What would you suggest?

              Comment


              • #8
                I'll tag Peridot for you as she may have missed your post xx
                ďWe may not win by protesting, but if we donít protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.Ē Hetty Bower

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                Comment


                • #9
                  Thank you

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi Mork,
                    sorry for missing the post. Are you a residuary beneficiary? If you are then the the amount you receive will be dependant in what the costs of dealing with the estate weíre, including funeral costs, debts and legal costs for example.
                    Have they had to get a grant of probate? If so you can obtain a copy of the Will by applying for a copy of the grant here:- https://www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inh...robate-records
                    As a residuary beneficiary it is good practice for execs to provide you with a copy of estate accounts. You also need to bear in mind the figures are the date your mum died figures and not pre death accounts.
                    As far as your motherís mental capacity was concerned as I explained before she may have had sufficient capacity to have wills and powers of attorney prepared and I would suspect if solicitors created these legal documents then the necessary tests for capacity would have been carried out.
                    i donít think contesting the will is necessarily the issue here unless you can demonstrate mum didnít have capacity to instruct lawyers to prepare her will.
                    It is really tough for you but just because something isnít how you expected doesnít mean there have been untoward dealings although it is important to look into it of course. The fact your mother said she had money at the house doesnít mean there was particularly if her capacity was an issue. It is also the duty of the executor to secure any assets when she died so if there was money at the property it would not be unreasonable for them to remove it.
                    If probate has not been needed then I am unsure how you can find out the further information. It may be an idea to write to the executor and request a copy of the accounts, in the absence of which you could suggest you will make a court application for them. Iím not suggesting this is necessarily the next move for you but the suggestion of increased costs, time and stress can sometimes invoke a response.
                    if that doesnít help I think it is time you sought some face to face legal advice from a probate specialist.
                    I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

                    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

                    If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hi PERIDOT,

                      No worries, & thanks for getting back to me.

                      Yes I'm a beneficiary.

                      There was no probate.

                      Money did go missing before mom died, there's no record of what's happened to this money. Could I go down the route of undue influence with this, or would this count as money not to be included in the Will?

                      Things have become very nasty, with threats, & accusations that I've stolen this money. So obviously I'm going to have to do something very soon, as they appear to be trying to turn the tables on me.

                      Comment

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