Abuse of lasting power of attorney

Author: Victoria Marsh

Figures obtained by insurer, Royal London have shown an increase in the number of people being investigated over decisions made through lasting powers of attorneys.

According to Royal London, the Office of the Public Guardian is looking into 1,647 more cases than last year – a rise of nearly 46 %.

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows a person – known as a donor – to select an individual, or individuals, to act on their behalf should they lose mental capacity due to an accident or illness, such as dementia.

There are two types of power of attorney; one covers property and finances and the other deals with health and welfare. In both cases a power of attorney must be completed while the donor is still of sound mind.

Although the number of investigations into misconduct has risen, many in the sector believe the problem is not due to the principle of a power of attorney, but perhaps with whom donors choose to represent them. Usually, it’s adult children who are appointed attorney, but donors need to be brutally honest about who they pick – after all, it’s they who will face the consequences of their choice.

Those with adult children who are not good at managing money or who could potentially steal from them need to face reality. Whether siblings get along with each other also needs to be considered as it could prove problematic when making decisions on behalf of the donor.

To help combat this, however, donors who have more than one attorney can determine whether they must all agree on every decision or whether they can act independently of each other. Alternatively, solicitors can be appointed as attorney. Once activated, they charge for their service, but the advantage is that they’re neutral and are accountable for any wrongdoing.

Although incidents of attorneys acting questionably do occur, families without a Power of Attorney can face real problems. Without one, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the person who has lost capacity can choose who makes decisions for them. There is a £400 application fee for someone to volunteer to be a deputy for the donor, as well as ongoing supervision charges from the Court of Protection to safeguard the vulnerable person. There could also be care fees to pay while the deputyship is being processed. All of this takes far more time and money than setting up aLasting Power of Attorney in the first place.  

We have a team of lasting power of attorney experts at Russell & Russell. We also offer a free, no obligation consultation where we can talk you through the process and answer any questions or problems you may have.

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