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Aston Lawyer
Aston Lawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10780
Experience:  Solicitor LLB (Hons) 23 years of experience in Conveyancing and Property Law
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Our Aunt is in her 90s and suffers from dementia and cancer.

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Our Aunt is in her 90's and suffers from dementia and cancer. She has until recently lived in sheltered accommodation, but after she made allegations of assualt (which we believe to be a flashback to her youth) she was moved to a home. Since living in the home she has thrived. For a while she was under a 'deprivation of liberty order' for her own protection as she kept saying that she wanted to go home but was considered by medical and social services to be unable to care for herself. She has now stated that she wishes to remain in the home and every one considers that to be the best place for her. She has verbally named my sister and myself as her next of kin, as we are the only people to visit her. We are not relatives - we are the daughters of a family friend. She has a nephew who she has not seen for about forty years. Social services have said that we are to give notice on her flat and clear it so that they can give it to another elderly person. We are concerned as we believe that if we were to get rid of her belongings we would be placed in a vulnerable positon (we think that would be morally wrong too) as we assume that any goods will be left to her nephew on her death as the only relative. We understand that this nephew visited her flat at Christmas and asked about her wheareabouts and left instructions that he should be contacted 'when anything happens'. He did not go and visit her at her present home. We are under pressure to clear her flat - and although we can put some of her belongings in storage it is not realistic to do this with everything. We have already been presented with a bill for £9000 for 3 months care. We do not have full access to her financial affairs and do not have the means to pay for this ourselves. Can you advise please?
Hello and thanks for using Just Answer.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX am happy to assist you with your enquiry.

Unless and until you or your sister have applied to the Court of Protection to become your Aunt's Deputy, then neither of you have any legal right to give Notice to the Housing Association or move any of your Aunt's items.
This is despite the fact your Aunt has "nominated" you both as her next of kin, as such a nomination has no legal standing.

If you do proceed and clear the property, then you are indeed leaving yourself open to a possible claim by her nephew. If Aunt has not made a Will, then if her nephew is her only close living relative, he will be entitled to her Estate in full and I'm afraid you are likely to be left with nothing at such time.
Therefore, legally, the best thing you can do is to contact the nephew and ask him to resolve the present problems, with your assistance perhaps.

As mentioned above, either you or nephew should, looking ahead, apply to become your Aunt's Deputy, but this is time consuming and costly, if you were to instruct a Solicitor (approx. £1,000).

I appreciate you are only trying to do your best for Aunt, but proceeding with clearing the property/dealing with the Housing Association and any care home bills is not really down to you from a legal point of view and indeed you do not have the authority to do these things.

I hope this sets out the legal position to you.

Kind Regards
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your answer.

We are not concerned about the eventual estate as we do not expect to inherit anything - it is more a concern about the present and the fact that she asked us to look after things for her. She has not seen the nephew (as he did not visit when he delivered a Christmas card) and we do not have any contact details for him. In the meantime she has a flat full of furnishings and belongings that will not fit into her care home and we have been asked to do something about them - as the only people to visit her. In the event of us not being able to contact him what would you advise? Thank you for your help

Hi Kate,

Thanks for your reply.

If you are unable to contact him, then practically, you should retain all of your Aunt's personal items/family photos/jewellery etc, and ask the Housing Association to dispose of the other items (ie unwanted furniture etc). This way, you have no liability on those hefty items that have been disposed of, but at least you have kept the more important sentimental items, should the nephew dispute anything in the future.
To cover your backs further, you should ideally also get a letter/some evidence that the H Association have disposed of these items. As the property is permanently empty, they will class it as being abandoned and are entitled to remove any unwanted items, and would hope they would do this without insisting on you doing it- if you explain that you have no legal rights to remove the items, I am sure they will take positive action themselves.

I hope this helps.

Kind Regards
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you

I will pass on and discuss your answer with my sister. You have been very helpful and clarified a difficult situation for us.

Thanks Kate.

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Kind Regards


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