Judge Carolyn Hilder says nephews are the most likely family members who will abuse their power of attorney obligations in a conference today.
Hilder, who was appointed as a senior judge at the Court of Protection in 2016, made the point at Frenkel Topping’s seminar on Deputies in London.
She talked about the sources of financial abuse for vulnerable clients and the enormous damage poor power of attorneys can do to them.
She pointed out several studies of financial abuse by attorneys across the world involving jurisdictions as diverse as the US, Singapore and the UK have shown the same result.
They all find that attorneys most likely to abuse their responsibilities are nephews.
Hilder also cited a report from Age UK published in 2015 that suggests there are 130,000 people living over the age of 65 who reported suffering from financial abuse
But she said this is an under representation as many incidents will not be reported and listed where financial abuse takes place.
The Age UK report suggests somewhere between 60 to 80 per cent of financial abuse cases take place in a private home while 15 to 20 per cent occurs when a person is living in residential care.
Also, about half of the perpetrators are family members, roughly 31 per cent are paid carers and then there are the international fraudsters.
She added: “Think twice before you appoint your nephew [as a power of attorney]. Women are about twice as likely as men to be victims of financial abuse but being from a minority race, culture or first language are also factors that increase the risk.
“It is a real problem and it behoves us to ask how it can be prevented in the first place.”