Confidence Tricksters & Estate Planning
Our attention is sometimes caught by media reports of manipulative individuals taking advantage of older or vulnerable people for financial gain.
This might be by convincing the person to change their Will, or set up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in respect of Property and Financial Affairs, in their favour.
The high profile case of Ben Field was in the headlines over the past months.
After moving in with Peter Farquhar, he spent months slipping him sedatives and alcohol whilst spreading untruths around Mr Farquhar’s social circle regarding his drinking and general health. Mr Farquhar changed his will, leaving Ben Field £20,000 and a life interest in his home when he died. The house was later sold and the proceeds shared between Ben Field and Mr Farquhar’s brother.
Newly bereaved, Ben Field turned his attention to an elderly neighbour, Mrs Moore-Martin, and convinced her to change her Will too.
Mercifully, when she was in hospital suffering the effects of taking a ‘white powder’ given to her by Ben Field, she opened up to her niece about their relationship. The police were called and he was later arrested. When Mrs Moore-Martin realised that he had been taking advantage of her, she changed her Will back in favour of her family. Sadly, she died not long after.
Ben Field has since been convicted of the murder of Mr Farquhar and of fraud.
Although these awful stories are rare, there are lessons to be learnt.
Look out for the older, lonely or vulnerable people in your life. This kind of controlling influence is really subtle and often happens within the confines of the home, making it hard to spot.
When Mrs Moore-Martin confided in her niece, action was immediately taken, and she was rescued from Ben Field’s control for the last few months of her life.
People talk about undue influence, and it is not always clear what that is.
At law, it means that a person gives away control or possessions which they would not have done without the influence of another, usually the recipient.
It can be very hard to prove that someone has been coerced into writing a Will or LPA in favour of another person. Indeed, in the case of Mrs Moore-Martin above, she is reported to have said that Ben Field never asked her to change her Will. She did it to please him.
We recommend that everyone should make a Will through a formal process, rather than a using a home kit.
We are required to ensure that you understand what your are doing; appreciate the extent of your estate; and are clear about who you are leaving it to and why.
Our prices start at £199 for a single simple Will.
We recommend that everyone making an LPA should seek independent advice as part of the process.
We can complete the LPA paperwork for you and act as your Certificate Provider. This means we must be reassured that you are making the LPA by your own choice, and that you know what you are doing.
Our prices start at £325 for a single LPA.