Protecting Vulnerable Individuals – A look into the story of Daphne Frank’s mother - MLP Law

Protecting Vulnerable Individuals – A look into the story of Daphne Frank’s mother

  • Wills, Trusts & Probate
  • 16th Dec 2021

Daphne Frank’s devastating account of her mother falling victim to a predatory marriage highlights the need for better protection of vulnerable people who could be targeted by abusers.

By aleks

MLP Law

Daphne Frank’s devastating account of her mother falling victim to a predatory marriage highlights the need for better protection of vulnerable people who could be targeted by abusers.

Daphne Frank’s mother was a vulnerable 87-year old living with dementia and terminal cancer, when a man befriended her, isolated her from her family and married her in secret. Five months after the marriage her mother sadly passed away.

In accordance with the laws of England and Wales, marriage has the effect of annulling a Will, rendering it no longer valid. This meant when Daphne’s mum passed away her new husband inherited the entirety of her estate.

As it stands, there are little protections in place that help the victim and their loved ones. Once a wedding has occurred, it’s difficult to protect the vulnerable person in question; even with proof of coercion or proof of the victim’s lack of mental capacity. Relatives could also face an emotional and expensive process if they wish to reclaim their loved one’s estate after they’ve passed. 

To protect vulnerable people and stop predatory marriages from happening, we need to ensure capacity testing is thorough and that registrars have sufficient training to spot potential predators who could be taking advantage of someone.

If you suspect a family member or loved one has entered a predatory marriage, it’s important you raise your concerns with them, and try to encourage an annulment. If the person in question doesn’t have adequate mental capacity to do so, you can make an application to the court of protection.

Similarly, they should also be encouraged to make a new will as the marriage will have revoked any previous will. If a person doesn’t have capacity to make a will, an application for a statutory will can be made to the court of protection, although this is trickier.

These steps can’t fully prevent a predator from marrying and financially or emotionally abusing you or a loved one. However, conversations centered around your later life wishes are a good step to take as preventative measure. Formalising these by drafting wills or Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) will give you, or your loved one, a higher level of protection should you, or they, ever lose capacity.

How can MLP Law help?
Where possible, you should always speak to a specialist lawyer experienced in this area of law when putting legal protection in place.
MLP Law have a specialist team who are able to provide the best advice on what’s needed according to your situation.
 Our offices are open for covid-19 safe appointments, alternatively we can discuss your instructions via telephone, video call or email.
Contact Details for Wills, Trusts and Probate Team: 0161 9269 969 or WTP@mlplaw.co.uk

About the expert

Stephen Attree

Managing Partner

Stephen is the Owner of MLP Law and leads our Commercial, IP and Dispute Resolution teams which provide advice on all aspects of the law relating to mergers, acquisitions, financing, re-structuring, complex commercial contracts, standard trading terms, share options, shareholder and partnership agreements, commercial dispute resolution, joint venture and partnering arrangements, IT and Technology law, Intellectual Property, EU and competition law, Brexit and GDPR.

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