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Elder Law Series: Woman with Power of Attorney Takes Thousands from 97-Year-Old with Dementia

Woman with Power of Attorney Takes Thousands from 97-Year-Old with Dementia – Crown Withdrew Charges When Accused Paid $20k in Restitution, with No Admission of Liability[1]

In 2016, Christine Fisher (“Fisher”) was a 94-year-old widow and still living in her apartment in Toronto. She was in the early stages of dementia when a woman named Theresa Gardiner (“Gardiner”) offered to help her out by assisting her with her groceries and providing her with some company.  Shortly thereafter, Fisher made Gardiner her attorney for property.

Gardiner then moved Fisher out of her apartment and into a seniors’ residence in Ontario.

Nancy Lewis (“Lewis”), Fisher’s long-time friend was uncomfortable with this decision and suggested to Gardiner that a second person be added to the POA to monitor the accounts, for which Gardiner refused.

Eventually, Lewis and another family member asked Fisher if she wanted them to check her accounts. Fisher agreed but said she didn’t have her bank card. When Fisher opened her wallet, Lewis found a note stating “Theresa Gardiner has my bank cards and won’t give them back”. When searching Fisher’s room at the seniors’ home, Lewis found many notes to this effect.

Fisher was worried about losing her memory and had written reminders to herself or testaments for others. Upon accessing Fisher’s accounts, it was evident that Gardiner has withdrawn approximately the sum of $78,000 for herself.

In July 2019, police charged Gardiner with three counts of theft under $5,000 and three counts of theft over $5,000. But in November 2019, the Crown withdrew the latter three charges when Gardiner agreed to pay $20,000 in restitution. There was no admission of liability.

With the criminal case not going forward and the Crown accepting restitution of just one-quarter of the amount of money taken, Fisher’s only recourse now may be a civil suit, but civil proceedings also have limitations.

The full article can be found at: ‘She wanted to do that for me’: Woman with power of attorney takes thousands from 97-year-old with dementia | CBC News

[1] She wanted to do that for me’: Woman with power of attorney takes thousands from 97-year-old with dementia, by Aaron Saltzman, CBC News dated March 3, 2020, ‘She wanted to do that for me’: Woman with power of attorney takes thousands from 97-year-old with dementia | CBC News

This paper is intended for the purposes of providing information only and is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This paper is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

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