Attorney Empties Elderly Relative’s Account

A County Durham woman may face prison after emptying the accounts of a vulnerable elderly relative.

Andrea Nicholson, 49, of Seaham, was given power of attorney for her husband’s uncle when he entered a care home in 2011. She became responsible for managing his accounts and care payments when he was no longer able to.

She then stole large sums of money from the accounts, leaving nothing to cover his care costs.

The 77-year-old man has mild learning difficulties and was described by the court as financially vulnerable.

The theft was discovered when Mrs Nicholson was approached by Durham County Council over outstanding fees in May 2013.

By June 2014 a significant number of payments were missed and Mrs Nicholson agreed to a meeting with the council, where she eventually admitted the theft.

She later told the police the first sum of money was withdrawn in October 2011 and the final one in June 2014.

Mrs Nicholson said she was unable to retrieve the money as it had not been spent on anything significant and she did not know exactly where it had gone.

The court advised her to sell her house to raise funds for compensation, but it is thought the amount raised will not be enough.

A further hearing will determine the sentence but Judge Christopher Prince warned she could face jail.

Kerry Brundall, a Wills and Probate specialist at Macks Solicitors, said: “Fortunately cases like this are rare. The vast majority of attorneys act properly and in the best interests of the elderly person.“

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document that appoints a trusted friend or relative to legally manage your property and finances when you are no longer able to. A Finance and Property LPA could appoint someone to manage the sale of your home, for example.

You can also draw up a Health and Welfare LPA, appointing someone to make decisions about your medical care, entering a care home, and where you spend your final days.

It is crucial, however, that these documents are created while you have the capacity to make important decisions, and are able to fully inform your chosen attorney of your intentions for your future.

Wills and Probate lawyers at Macks Solicitors can help you create a Lasting Power of Attorney to ensure your finances and wellbeing are protected for the future.

You can contact one of our Wills solicitors in Middlesbrough, Redcar or Darlington on 01642 252 828 to arrange an appointment.

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