The Office of the Public Guardian has recently disclosed that, in the last year, there has been a sharp rise in the number of investigations it has carried out into the actions of Attorneys and Deputies heightening fears that the Lasting Power of Attorney process is being abused by a small minority. In the 2016/2017 financial year, there were 1199 investigations, increasing to 1729 in the 2017/2018 financial year.
An attorney is appointed under a Lasting Power of Attorney by a Donor, thereby allowing the Attorney to manage their day to day personal finances, and also assets, usually when the Donor has lost mental capacity (although the LPA can be drawn so as to enable the Attorney to act even when the donor has capacity), and a Deputy is appointed by the OPG if a person has lost the mental capacity to prepare an LPA, and someone needs to handle their financial affairs on their behalf.
“There is probably a number of reasons why these figures have increased…” says Daniel Prince, Solicitor at Kirkham Legal…… “It could simply be down to the increased number of LPAs now being registered as more and more people become aware of the need for them, although I suspect it is more likely because more people are now preparing LPAs without seeking legal advice or using a solicitor. This means that some people may not be fully aware of the legal and far-reaching implications of the document, or their ability to place limits on the powers at the Attorney, or have not given enough thought to the suitability or number of their chosen Attorneys. If people seek legal advice, the lawyer will carefully explain all of these points to ensure the powers are correctly granted, and as best as is possible, ensure that the correct people are chosen. Further if the LPA is prepared by a lawyer, they will usually write to the Attorney for them to sign the document before it is registered. The fact that the Attorney then knows that a lawyer is involved may in itself lead to the Attorney acting properly and in the best interests of the Donor in the future. Also the lawyer will ensure that the Donor has the mental capacity to prepare the LPA in the first place, and do their utmost to check that the Donor is not being pressured into preparing it”.
If you need any advice on this area of law, then please do not hesitate to contact Kirkham Legal on-
0161 393 2299
Our Practice Licence Number is 11250.