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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 35071
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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My father is 65 years old and has been suffering from dementia

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My father is 65 years old and has been suffering from dementia for at least the last 4 years and probably longer, he suffered a stroke 12 years ago.

He has been in a relationship with my stepmother for 32 years, married for the last eight.

My stepmother is dying of breast cancer - she wont disclose her prognosis but it is unlikely she will live beyond this year.

We (his 3 children) have taken over the full time care of my father. My stepmother will not disclose to us the state of their finances and my father has no knowledge / understanding of them and we need to know to try and plan future care for our father.

We believe that the following is a rough idea of their assets although this could be far from the reality - our father had a successful business and it is possible they have other assets and also liabilities:

They own their home outright - worth £230,000 in her sole name.

They own 5 flats in Egypt, bought for £120,000 5 years ago in her sole name.

They also bought her parents a 4 bed detached home in 1999 now worth approx £350,000 and on which there is an interest only mortgage of around £140,000, also in her name.

They have cash of approx £170,000

It seems now that my stepmother is planning on repaying the interest only mortgage on her parents home, leaving little or no cash to pay for day to day expenses or for our fathers future care.

Apparently they remade wills in August last year when my father may not have been of sound mind although we do not know what the wills entail.

We are concerned that financial decisions are being made that aren't in our fathers best interest and would like to know how we can best protect his interests so that their capital can provide for the long term care that he will require. Time is of the essence in that it is likely that our stepmother will die in the short term and it seems as if no provision has been made for his care and financial needs.

Can you advise what steps we can / should take to protect his interests.

Many thanks
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
What assets did he have in his sole name at the start of their relationship?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
HelloThey met when I was 14, my father was recently separated from my mother. We had a 5 bed detached home, he owned a business and the premises which comprised offices, a flat, large warehouse and yard. He had 3 children at boarding school so was fairly well off. Is his ok? I don't know exact figures, sorry.He was also living on his own somewhere but I have no idea where as we never visited him there
What did your mother receive in settlement of the divorce?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
She kept the family home and received maintenance until my younger brother was 18.

I will also add that my stepmother was 19 and working behind a bar when she met my father.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Clare, I must go out now and will be away for a couple of hours.

I can answer any more questions you may have when I return



Do you have access to his income at the moment?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No, my stepmother holds all the cards - literally!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

She doesn't allow Dad to have any cards

Has anyone been appointed as his Deputy to deal with matters?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Not yet, this a first enquiry. Can we do this without Michelle's authorisation?

In the event that his wife dies without making any provision for your father then he will have a claim against her Estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act
he will be entitled to the matrimonial home at the very least - quite possible to half of her estate or more
As things stand there is a limit to what you can do without his wife's agreement and co-operation.
You can apply to become his Deputy - assuming that he has no mental capacity at all - but notice will have to be given to his wife.
If she objects that then you can certainly argue that her health precludes her from dealing with matters - but if she is not in fact as ill as you think that may not work.
At that point you can certainly address his income position but will not have access to the capital in her name
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Clare


Thanks for that. I appreciate that he will have a certain amount of protection under the legislation once his wife dies, but we are concerned about both ensuring that their joint funds aren't spent inappropriately before she dies and also we need to have an understanding of what his financial position is so that we can plan for his future care requirements. What can we do to compel her to disclose their joint finances? As it stands we have no real idea of his assets & liabilities.


I understand that the bar is set quite high to appoint an attorney under the Mental Capacity Act and I am proposing to ask my father to sign an LPA in the event that he isn't assessed as needing a deputy - does that make sense to you?



You are not going to be able to do so I am afraid
With regard to the LPA if he has capacity to sign that then he certainly had capacity to make a Will last year
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks Clare

So I am clear, are you saying that there is no legal mechanism for compelling his wife to disclose to him / us what assets they jointly have?

I am assuming that there is no downside to applying for an LPA prior to potentially applying to become a deputy - that way we are covered both ways - if he is deemed to be competent then the LPA is valid and if not then there would be no bar to being appointed deputy.

We are not concerned about his will, our only concern is that their limited financial resources are managed correctly during this difficult period - at present it seems possible / probable that she will discharge the mortgage on her parents home which won't leave sufficient capital to cover our fathers care needs and the last thing that anyone wants is a costly and emotionally difficult legal battle with her family after her death which is why we are desperate to try and resolve this as best we can before she dies.

I look forward to hearing from you.

The real issue is IS he mentally competent or not - and this will have to be dealt with by his doctor before you can take any action at all
When (and it will take weeks) you have authority you can ask his wife about assets but you cannot force her to tell you what she holds not dictate what she does with it
I am sorry - I know that this is not what you wish to hear but sadly it may be that dealing with matters after her death will be your only option
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