When an elderly man died owning both a house and a half share in an attached property with his sister, whose financial affairs were already being administered by a cousin under a power of attorney, the scene was set for the cousin to seize ownership of the property.

The cousin took over dealing with the deceased man’s estate. She claimed to have found a will, whilst cleaning out his house prior to putting it up for sale, which left his own house and his half share in the adjoining property to his sister. The will turned out to be a forgery, however. The cousin and her husband then also forged a letter purporting to be from the man’s sister, instructing her as attorney to transfer both properties into the ownership of her daughter.

Using her power of attorney, the cousin then had both properties registered in her daughter’s name. She also appropriated £23,000 of the sister’s assets to pay for the two properties to be converted into a single larger dwelling.

As the cousin might well have inherited the properties anyway, it is difficult to understand her actions. The fraud only came to light when a property dispute arose regarding the boundary of one of the properties.

Both the attorney and her husband pleaded guilty to offences for which they received three concurrent jail terms of six months. The property will almost certainly be ordered to be restored to the deceased’s sister.


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