My father’s care giver is after his money – can we stop this?

  • This form of elder abuse is becoming more common.  Seek legal advice immediately before your relationship has been destroyed by the care giver, or your father dies.

Hart v. Cooper involved a man who was 78, had been diagnosed with cancer, and was given two months to live.  He suffered from episodes of confusion and had to be admitted to the hospital because he was unable to care for himself.  He was scheduled to see a psychiatrist for an assessment of his mental capacity, but his 58 year old girlfriend of 8 months took him out of the hospital on a three day pass and did not bring him back for over two weeks.  They were married two days after she took him out of the hospital.  His two children were not informed of the marriage.  In the next two weeks the wife took steps to transfer various assets of the man into her name.  The man’s children learned about the marriage, and one of them travelled to see him, accompanied by the police.  When they spoke to him alone he said he had been kidnapped and wished to return to the hospital.  His physical and mental condition had deteriorated while he had been out of the hospital, and he died within a week. 

The man had a will which left his estate to his two children.  However, the Wills Act in force at that time said that a will is revoked by marriage.  This resulted in the man’s estate being divided between his new wife and his children.  The children challenged the marriage, saying that it was invalid because their father did not have the mental capacity to enter into a marriage.

The judge disagreed.  A person is mentally capable of entering into a marriage contract if he has the capacity to understand the nature of the contract and the duties and responsibilities it creates.  The judge said that the contract is a very simple one — not at all difficult to understand. The medical records showed that the man had periods of lucidity during the last month of his life, and the witnesses to the marriage ceremony testified that he seemed to be lucid.  The marriage was valid, so the wife got a large part of the estate.

It is important to take steps before your loved ones die in these cases.  We can help.  Contact us.

Read the case:  Hart v. Cooper                      

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