Tag: financial exploitation
Listen to Keeping Good Records
This week on Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Ian and Suzana talk about the importance of keeping good records in order to account for your conduct financially.
In McMullen v. McMullen  B.C.J. No 2900, an 86 year old widower commenced an application against two of his three daughters, who held his power of attorney. The application was to set aside the transfer of a 99% interest in the father’s condominium property to the husbands of his two daughters. The daughters, in turn, brought an application for an order requiring their father to submit to a psychiatric assessment.
According to the medical evidence before the court, the father had some medical problems, but no documented cognitive problems. At worst, he suffered from depression. However, the two daughters alleged that their father’s spending habits had changed and his investments had been depleted. The daughters claimed that their father was sending money to a new female acquaintance in the United States. The family contacted medical professionals and legal authorities with concerns that their father was being financially abused, but to no avail.
When the daughters confronted their father with respect to his worsening financial situation, he became angry and denied he was being financially exploited. He asked his one daughter to stop monitoring his bank account though she did not accede to his request, as she considered it her duty under the power of attorney. The two daughters then transferred the father’s condominium property to preserve his only remaining asset and provide for his future care.
However, the daughters did not immediately register the transfer of the condominium property, as they thought it would cause emotional distress. It was not until a year later that the daughters finally registered the transfer of the condominium without telling their father or providing consideration. The father commenced the application when he ultimately discovered the transfer.
The court allowed the application by the father and the condominium transfer was declared null and void. While the daughters acted in what they considered to be in their father’s best interests, there was nevertheless no evidence to show that the father was incapable of managing his financial affairs. The daughters had therefore breached their duties as attorneys by acting contrary to their father’s intentions. The court dismissed the daughters’ application, as the father was not required to submit to a psychiatric assessment where his mental capacity was not an issue.
The case holds that even when a family fears that an elderly parent is being financially exploited, but mental incompetency is not an issue, a power of attorney does not give the family carte blanche to do what they think is in the best interests of that parent. A power of attorney for property has its limits even in the most egregious situations.
Justin de Vries