In defence of Lasting Powers of Attorney

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22 August, 2017

Last week, a retired senior Court of Protection Judge, Denzil Lush commented that Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) leave vulnerable elderly people open to financial abuse.LPAs are important legal documents, which allow a person to appoint someone (or more than one person) to make decisions on their behalf about their finances or care, in the event that they became mentally incapable of making those decisions for themself.

The Senior Judge's comments have led to concerns that LPAs are a direct line to financial abuse.  However, his comments must be put into context; his career as a Court of Protection judge will have presented him with only the worst cases of abuse.  It does not take into account all the cases of LPAs which work perfectly well.  Of the thousands of registered LPAs currently in use, the Court of Protection only sees handful of cases, notably where there are allegations of financial abuse (and not all of those result in a finding of wrongdoing).

LPAs have many benefits when done properly.  There are some ways of ensuring that your LPA is effective and safe, in order to protect you from financial abuse*:-

  • Plan early and put your affairs in order whilst you have mental capacity.  By making an LPA, you can choose who should manage your affairs. You can't make an LPA once you lose capacity and you would then have little or no say as to who controls your affairs.
  • Choose your attorneys carefully.  Fundamentally, you should choose someone you trust. Consider appointing more than one person so they can share the responsibility and ensure your best interests are always met.
  • Consider appointing a professional.  Family members may not always be the best people to act, but a solicitor can act as a neutral third party and make unbiased decisions in your best interests.
  • Discuss your wishes with your attorney, particularly if you have specific wishes about your finances or the care and medical treatment you receive.   You should ensure your attorney is aware of your wishes and make them clear in the LPA document itself.
  • Seek professional advice.  'Home-made' or online LPAs can be susceptible to abuse.  For most people, seeking professional legal advice is the best way of ensuring your LPA is effective, legally robust and safe.
  • Keep your LPA up to date.  If your circumstances change, you should consider updating your LPA to ensure your wishes are still reflected.  LPAs can be revoked whilst you still have mental capacity if you are not longer happy with your choice of attorney.

To find out more, contact one of our specialist solicitors in the Wills, Probate, Tax and Trusts department or alternatively call Freephone 0800 975 2643 or send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

*Solicitors for the Elderly 2017

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