Dramatic rise in investigations into Lasting Powers of Attorney abuse

It is alarming to learn of recent news that the government carried out nearly 50% more investigations concerning abuse complaints regarding lasting powers of attorney (LPA) last year.

The Office of the Public Guardian received 5,245 claims that attorneys were abusing their powers over donor’s finances in 2018 – a new record figure.

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document drawn up where a person chooses someone to look after their financial and other life affairs should they become incapacitated at some point in the future.

Although every case is looked at, 3,359 allegations of attorneys abusing their position were not considered viable cases, but the 1,886 cases that were investigated is a 50% increase in investigations in 2017.

Another recent report showed 74% of those aged between 65 and 74-years-old have failed to make a lasting power of attorney and 35% have no intention of doing so, despite people living longer.

It goes without saying, with this in mind, as the population continues to age, making an LPA very late in life could mean more loved ones successfully challenging the capacity of a donor’s decision.

To add to this, there are more complex family structures than a generation ago, due to remarriages etc., meaning additional conflict when attorneys are picked.

Unfortunately though, as wills and trusts experts, we at Keelys are well aware that the cost of a complaint is a substantial drain on a mentally incapacitated person’s finances.

It means those making an LPA have to be very careful about who they appoint. For instance, is it wise to put all of your children as attorneys when there is great friction between them?

For us, dealing with such matters, we think it is problematic that so many people are not protecting themselves by planning for later life.

It is clear there is still a lack of awareness of the importance and benefits of a Lasting Power of Attorney, which is so needed for the modern age.

After all, this is a legally recognised way to choose trusted individuals to make decisions about their welfare.

We can only hope the awareness of Lasting Powers of Attorney grows, but also that the right consideration is given by those who it affects most.

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