Granny napping is defined as the legal movement of an elderly person from one residential location to another, and could include the removal of an elderly person from a nursing home care facility.
The aim of this may be to remove the elderly person from contact with other people such as family & friends, in order to isolate them and to facilitate financial abuse. The prevalence of granny napping is expected to rise as affluent baby boomers age.
There has been a steady increase of “Elder Abuse”, and a decline in the treatment of vulnerable people in our society. This leaves the assets of the elderly person open to abuse. There have been instances where elderly people have been left to starve as disagreeable, uncaring relatives demand food and money from their elderly relatives.
Houses of elderly relatives have even been sold and the relative has been forced to move out. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to granny napping and elderly abuse not just here in South Australia, but throughout the rest of Australia, too.
One of the inherent problems in Australian society is the lack of effective communication between siblings and between siblings and elderly parents. Bitter relationships have sometimes developed between these individuals. Elderly people who have not yet succumbed to dementia or other debilitating diseases have even gone so far as making out Wills that only name grandchildren as beneficiaries, in an attempt to bypass their problematic & meddling children. However this only tends to add even more fuel to the fire when it comes to resolving inheritance issues and often leads to litigation, which in some cases have involved grandchildren having to give back money to their own parents.
On 26/02/2014 the UK Court of Protection decided the case of JS –v- KB & MP .
The Court itself said: “This cautionary tale illustrates vividly the dangers of informal family arrangements for an elderly relative who lacks mental capacity, made without proper regard for:
i. the financial and emotional vulnerability of the person who lacks capacity; and
ii. the requirements for formal, and legal, authorisation for the family’s actions, specifically in relation to property and financial affairs.”
The case concerned a 90 year-old female suffering from a progressive dementia. She had been cared for by her daughter for over three years. The Court found that “The actual care arrangement is in many ways excellent … [the patient] is receiving devoted care and is reported to be happy. For this, [the daughter] deserve genuine credit.”
However, the Court found that the daughter had used informal and improper means by which the patient’s finances were utilised by the daughter to fund the care arrangements, and this led to the sale of the home in which she had lived for over fifty years effectively ‘over her head’, and the proceeds of sale being placed out of her immediate reach, rendering her financially highly exposed; government benefits and retirement pension payable to the patient had been subsequently been diverted into an account in the daughter’s name. All of this was done without legal authority.
How many horror stories have you heard about farming families getting torn apart when the farm-owner dies? In my work as a lawyer specialising in estate planning and probate, I’ve heard quite a few.
They often have a common theme – where a relative (typically a younger son) worked for low wages on the family farm for years, with the expectation that the property would be passed on to them after the owner’s death.
There is a sense of expectation & entitlement – of having earned their inheritance – often fuelled by a lack of discussion or planning by the old owner. Unfortunately, this scenario frequently creates significant problems within the family, especially if there is more than one child wishing to benefit from the farm. Often the farmland and the business it supports are the major assets of the deceased estate. It can be difficult enough to generate a decent income from the whole – breaking up the farm to give every child a share may mean that the family farming business cannot continue to be viable.
The documents in your estate plan are excellent tools, and like the tools in your shed, they need to be kept sharp to maximise their effectiveness.
Preventative Maintenance is essential. It’s the same for most important things in life.
Take your car for example. If you are doing what you should, you change your car’s oil every year or 10,000 kms.
You invest in maintenance and preventative care throughout the life of your vehicle, to keep it reliable and running well.
The presents have gone from beneath the tree, the over-full rubbish bin has been emptied and the last of the ham and turkey has finally disappeared from the fridge.
Now is the time when we start to reflect upon those New Year Resolutions we traditionally make early each year.