Having power of attorney is a serious responsibility, particularly when it comes to managing a vulnerable person’s finances. The elderly, especially those with medical conditions that affect their ability to defend themselves against fraud are particularly vulnerable to people who might look to take advantage of them. A recent story reported by CBC highlights some of these risks.

Bank cards go missing

The story states that a woman who was power of attorney (“the accused”) took tens of thousands of dollars from a 97-year-old woman (“CF”). At the time the event in question began, CF was 94-years-old and was living by herself in Toronto. She had entered the early stages of dementia when the accused reached out with an offer to help her. CF and the accused worked together decades earlier when they were both employed by a bank.

CF’s current power of attorney said that in the beginning, the accused and CF would go out for groceries together, and they would go to movies or dinner once a week.

After giving her power of attorney, CF was moved from her apartment into a seniors’ residence. This is when things started to go south with the relationship.

Missing bank cards

After being moved into the seniors’ home, CF was reported to have been upset and asked for another power of attorney to join the accused in performing that role. The story reported that the accused said, “absolutely not, that is not going to happen.”

A member of CF’s family offered to help her check on her bank accounts, but the family was unable to find her bank cards. Instead in their place, she found a note that said “(The accused) has my bank cards and won’t give them back.”

The family member started looking through CF’s room for bank statements but instead found more notes claiming the accused had taken CF’s money.

After eventually gaining access to the bank accounts, CF’s current power of attorney said that over the course of two months, the accused had written three cheques (to were addressed “to cash” and one to the accused) totaling $78,000.

The accused reacts

The accused said she had done nothing wrong, and that CF said “she wanted to change her will and leave me everything. And I wouldn’t let her because I said, ‘(CF), you’re at a point in your life where you don’t know what you’re doing.” However, she said she accepted CF’s wish to give her her TFSA.

Charges were initially laid against the accused but the charges were withdrawn when the accused volunteered to pay $20,000 in restitution. She made no admission of liability. Of course, $20,000 is far from the total taken from CF, who may be forced to seek a full remedy in civil courts.

If you are the family member, friend, or loved one of a grantor and are concerned about their choice of attorney, or are concerned about some of the decisions that are being made by the attorney, the Toronto estate lawyers at Derfel Estate Law can help. We advise on all aspects of estate disputes, including disputes over power of attorney matters. Call us at 416-847-3580 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.