Financial Abuse Rockets

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Financial abuse rockets as a steep rise in investigations into attorneys over financial wrongdoing is reported

Record numbers of people chosen to look after someone else’s financial affairs are being struck off as attorneys and a major cause of this is thought to be the ability to now make a lasting power of attorney (LPA) online. A report, published by a coalition of organisations led by Solicitors for the Elderly, warns that anyone creating an LPA without taking specialist legal advice, faces a significantly higher risk of being left with an ineffective legal document, incurring additional application fees, and even becoming a victim of fraud or coercion.

Examples of financial abuse could include an attorney gifting large sums of money to either themselves or someone else without the donor’s knowledge or approval or even a child using some of their parent’s money to fund improvements on their own house, even though those improvement do not benefit their parent. Other than customary gifts on birthdays, weddings and Christmas, an attorney is not permitted to make any gifts under a power of attorney without seeking authority from the Court.

As some people are no longer seeking legal advice regarding an LPA and instead choosing to do them online, they are leaving themselves open to abuse and financial wrongdoing. When seeking legal advice, I always meet with my clients on their own to ensure that they are not being coerced and also to determine if the person has the necessary understanding to make a power of attorney. This is very important as if an LPA is made, for example online, and it is later found that the person did not have capacity to make the document, it can be revoked by the Office of Public Guardian.

Recent figures have shown that Dementia and Alzheimer’s is now Britain’s biggest killer and in 2015, accounted for almost one in eight deaths. This highlights how important it is that people plan for their future and in particular, put into place an LPA whilst they still have mental capacity to do so. There is not an automatic right for next-of- kin to make decisions on a person’s behalf, so a lasting power of attorney can make all the difference. Doing it via a solicitor ensures that it is not only drafted correctly, but also that you receive the necessary advice and guidance about the implications of choosing your attorney and their powers.

At Forbes Solicitors, our team of specialists are happy to advise on Wills, Probate, Tax and Trusts . Should you require any further information, please contact Jennifer Wilkinson in our Wills, Probate, Tax and Trusts Department on freephone 0800 975 2643 or send any question via our online contact form.

Jennifer Wilkinson

About Jennifer Wilkinson

Jennifer Wilkinson is an Associate Solicitor within the Wills, Probate, Trusts and Tax Department at Forbes Solicitors. Jennifer’s blogs cover her specialisms of Will writing, dealing with the administration of estates, paying for care, powers of attorney and court of protection issues. Jennifer is also a member of Solicitors for the Elderly and specialises in matters specifically relating to elderly clients.
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