The nephew of an elderly woman who was incapable of managing her own affairs has been ordered to repay her almost $1.5 million, which he received by way of undue influence on her to continually gift him money.

The nephew built up this sum of money through the proceeds of the sale of her home, a series of ATM withdrawals, regular bank transfers and more, from around 2014 when he started acting as her attorney for property, until 2020 when she was diagnosed with dementia and placed in a rest home.

The elderly woman lost her husband in the 1980s and lived independently until 2020, at which point she was placed in care. While she had no children the nephew cared for her in the decade leading up to her being placed in care.

She was noted to have some mental decline in 2014. Although a diagnosis of dementia could have been made the Court held it was not. Shortly after, the nephew became the attorney with respect to the woman’s property and welfare affairs.

The nephew began to funnel a significant sum of money from his aunt to himself. Firstly, $1.3 million of proceeds from a property sale was “gifted” to him. An additional $90,000 was withdrawn from multiple ATMs over 5 years, and further bank withdrawals and ‘gifts’ totalling $120,000.

During Family Court proceedings the Court found that there were multiple occasions between 2015 and 2020 where the woman’s mental capacity was questioned. It was during this time that the nephew exercised significant and undue influence, a serious breach of his duties as her attorney.

It was proven that he misused the trust and reliance she had built with him over the preceding years. The Court ordered that the various amounts be repaid with interest on a portion of the sum, totalling  nearly $1.5 million.

When dealing with challenges around family members lacking mental capacity, and the management of their enduring property and welfare affairs, it is important to always get advice about the obligations and protections available to you.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Shaun Cousins and Raiyan Azmi