Have you seen the movie “The Father” yet? The film, starring Anthony Hopkins, addresses the struggles of an octogenarian who suffers from dementia and feels abandoned when his daughter is moving from London to Paris. It is a film full of confusion, distress and accusations, not only from the main character’s point of view but also from that of his family and the audience.
Our Wills & Estates team is very familiar with matters involving elderly parents who lose their ability to look after themselves, and their children who have to make difficult decisions about their parents’ care and financial situation. Usually, the family’s main concern is to focus on their elderly parent’s welfare and provide the best care they can during their parent’s final years of life. Unfortunately, we often see families distracted when disputes arise as a result of the aging parent’s affairs not being in order, or the family not agreeing on how the affairs are to be managed.
Issues which commonly arise include:
- a parent, or other elderly relative or friend, who does not have a power of attorney and who no longer has the required decision making capacity to sign one
- an attorney who fails to manage the principal’s affairs appropriately, or
- relatives who want to have access to their inheritance now, even though the elderly parent, relative or friend is still alive.
It is important to address matters like this early, to avoid long lasting family conflicts. With all parties understanding their rights and responsibilities, quick and cost effective solutions can be found before relationships break down or (in the worst case scenario), elder abuse occurs. A lawyer can assist with negotiating a suitable outcome between family members or (if necessary) applying to the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for orders:
- appointing a (new) administrator and/or guardian
- seeking financial information from an attorney, or
- removing an attorney who has mismanaged finances or is not acting in the principal’s best interests.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.