fightA jealous son who was sick of his brother being the ‘favourite’, has been jailed for four years for cheating his brother out of a $1.5 million inheiritance.

Peter Howes was resentful of his older brother Jonathan, who lived in Singapore and Hong Kong, leaving him to care for their elderly mother and he began to siphon cash from their parent’s estate.

Peter Howes wound up a number of trusts by forging his mother’s and brother’s signatures and cashed in two life insurance policies unbeknownst to his family.

Following his father’s death in 2004, Howes was given sole responsibility of the administration of the family trusts. The brothers were entitled to half the estate each, but Howes transferred cash from the trusts to a joint account with his mother, and then into his own accounts. He used to money to buy 40% of an online gaming company.

When Mrs Howes died in 2010, Howes wound up one of the trusts and gave his brother $109,000, telling him that the remainder of the money was still tied up in the trusts. However solicitors acting for Jonathan discovered the deception and Howes was subsequently charged with five counts of fraud.

The judge described Howes as ruthless, saying: “…in terms of [your mother’s] finances, you failed her dishonestly. You have been convicted of dishonesty and abuse and that word abuse can be used in its full sense of your role.”

The financial abuse of elderly parents is the most common form of elder abuse, says Bryan Mitchell, principal of Mitchells Solicitors. There might be a sense of entitlement, that the money will go to the children anyway. Or there is a real sense, as in this case, that one child is entitled to more than the other. Whatever form it takes, financial exploitation is abuse and should not be tolerated.

Bryan Mitchell has often represented parents and siblings who have been financially abused by a family member and is asked by television programs such as A Current Affair for his opinion each time a case is made public. If you suspect financial abuse is happening in your family, contact Estate Battles immediately.