A man named Stephen Jackson has been found to have stolen almost one million New Zealand dollars from his dying mother. The man actually sold his parents’ house whilst his mother was in the process of writing her will – even though that will said that Ivy Jackson wanted to split the property between her three children. However, by the time she died the house had already been sold and it was too late to do anything about it.
Stephen Jackson then took a further $250,000 from his mother’s bank account after she passed away.
Only one of Mr Jackson’s siblings was living at the time of their mother’s death, and the High Court in New Zealand found in favour of that sibling, Raymond Jackson. It was found that Stephen and his wife Linda owed almost $1.1 million, plus interest, to the estate of his dead mother.
But how could this have happened in the first place?
In January 2014, Ivy Jackson suffered a stroke and was unable to return to her home. Knowing that she was very unwell, she proceeded to write a will which, two days later, was completed. The will stated that she wanted the house to be sold, and for the proceeds from the sale to be shared between her children equally. Everything that was left over would go to Stephen and Linda Jackson.
However, because Stephen had been made power of attorney after his mother’s stroke, he had already made arrangements to sell the house.
Ivy Jackson died one year later after spending 12 months in a nursing home. Stephen said that he had had to sell the house in order to pay for the home (and the payment for it does seem to have come from the proceeds of the house sale). However, Ivy had enough put into savings to pay for these fees without the need to sell the house at that time. And, despite some of the money being used for the care home, almost $600,000 was still unaccounted for when the case went to court.
On top of that, it was discovered that Stephen Jackson used his status as power of attorney to withdraw around $300,000 from a joint account that had been held by his mother and father.
And, although they were both named as executors in Ivy’s will, neither Stephen nor Linda actually executed it, and instead continued to make withdrawals from a variety of different accounts.
The couple did not attend the hearing and they cannot be contacted, although it is thought that they have since moved to Queensland. The case is therefore ongoing.
John Gimbert has been found guilty of stealing a house. Not in the sense that you might be thinking, but steal a house he has still done. And not just a house – the 64 year old retired policeman – along with his son, David – has also been convicted of stealing £200,000 from his disabled cousin.
It is said that Gimbert abused the position of trust that had been afforded to him after being made power of attorney over his cousin’s estate. He was tasked with selling the disabled woman’s house, and he did so – but he sold it at a vastly reduced rate, and he sold it to his eldest son. He also spent £30,000 on vehicles, and gave his other children large cash gifts to use as deposits to buy homes.
He managed to get away with this as his cousin, Miss Trim, has no concept of money and did not understand that she had been duped. Her disability means she has severe learning difficulties, and the mind of a child.
Along with the deception, it is argued that Miss Trim did not have the mental capacity to sign the documents allowing Mr Gimbert to become her power of attorney.
A Bradford court recently heard the case of a 51 year old woman – Maxine Forster – who, along with her sister, was given power of attorney over their mother. They had arranged this because their mother, Betty, was beginning to suffer from dementia.
However, it was claimed that Maxine stole £50,000 from her mother. She is alleged to have done this over the course of six years (between 2006 and 2012) by taking small amounts at a time. This then impacted on the amount of money that was left when Betty died, and therefore Maxine’s sister, Elaine Welch, was unable to receive the inheritance that would have been due to her. Sadly, Elaine died in 2015. However, her husband continued the court battle as he believed she would have been owed money, and it was in the interests of justice if nothing else that Maxine was punished.
Mr Welch has even suggested that the stress of the situation caused Elaine’s cancer to return, after she had previously beaten it.
The judge who heard the case sentenced Maxine to 8 months in jail, although the sentence was suspended for a year.
Corrupt probate lawyer jailed
A corrupt probate lawyer who conned £300,000 from clients, has been jailed for five years.
Somerset lawyer Keith Webber's deception began in 2009, when his sister in law and her husband gave him power of attorney, thereafter paying him in excess of £62,000 over the next 12 months, in gifts, fuel and fees.
Webber then deceived another six elderly and vulnerable individuals, persuading them to make him sole executor of their wills and signing assets over into his name – even going so far as to forge one woman's will, shortly after she had died.
The disgraced lawyer used a number of illegal tactics, including persuading customers to make he and his wife gifts and charging exorbitant fees for his work.
Bristol Crown Court found him guilty of six counts of fraud and theft, and sentenced him to five years' imprisonment.
Who could fail but be saddened by reports that Jimmy Hill is suffering from dementia, having given joint powers of attorney to his wife and a solicitor.
Jimmy had the document drawn up in 2005, when he was still in good health. However, within only three years, the illness had become apparent and had affected him so badly that he was deemed incapable of looking after himself.
Jimmy is now in a nursing home and naturally, his children are concerned and frustrated that they have no say over their father’s care or what should happen to his assets. They only discovered that he had had the document prepared, in 2008, when the illness had taken a firm hold.
The two children who are raising awareness of the problems powers of attorney can bring for children of parents who have married multiple times, are Jimmy’s son and daughter from his second marriage.
Unfortunately, relations between Jimmy’s third wife Bryony and the two children – Joanna and Jamie – are now very strained as she will not consider amending the powers of attorney. This means that as things stand, Hill’s children will continue to have no say in his affairs, with the law stating that there is no legal requirement for them to be involved.
The British Bankers’ Association (BBA) has recently implemented guidelines for all banking staff in England, which should make handling the financial affairs of a loved one much easier.
In the past, the criteria and procedures associated with handling another person’s finances varied from bank to bank. Confusion reigned regarding the documents needed and processes to be followed. Another common complaint was that bank staff often had no knowledge of recognised financial arrangements. Now however, these new guidelines will ensure that the process is standardised across all banks.
For customers with a physical disability but with sound mental capacity, they may require assistance over the short term. In this instance, the helper may simply contact the person’s bank and complete the relevant form for a “third party mandate”. For longer periods of time however, it may be advisable to apply for power of attorney.
If the individual either has limited mental capacity or is looking to plan for this eventuality, then lasting power of attorney rights can be granted to their specific nominated person.
A case was publicised recently whereby a lady whose mother passed away only a few weeks ago, was sent a letter by HMRC notifying her that a £100 fine had been applied to her mother’s account, for failing to send in her self assessment tax return on time, for the year ending April 2011. HMRC also indicated that £10 each day was to be added to the fine until the end of April, should the initial fee not be paid in full.
The lady, who whilst her mother was alive, acted as power of attorney, was both horrified and confused.
As is usual, as part of the probate process, the daughter was required to identify any outstanding tax or creditors, but at that time, it was deemed that no tax was due and indeed it had been considered while the woman was alive, there was no reason to complete a self assessment form.
Concerned, as all the deceased’s bank accounts were frozen, there was no way for the woman to pay HMRC from her mother’s Estate.
On further investigation, HMRC revealed a letter had been sent out because the deceased had been expected to submit a tax return on receiving a small investment income. In addition, her daughter’s power of attorney status had not terminated on the death of her mother, as it should have done.
It apologised to the lady in question, blaming its automated systems, and admitted that no sums were in fact due.
If you receive such correspondence on behalf of a deceased person from HMRC and you feel it may be inaccurate, be sure to contact your dedicated probate professional.