Abuse of powers of attorney
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets the 'donor' appoint one or more people (known as 'attorneys') to help them make decisions or to make decisions on their behalf.
There are 2 types of LPA:
- health and welfare
- property and financial affairs
A person can choose to make one type or both.
To make an LPA, the donor must be over 18 and must have mental capacity.
An LPA has to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used. One of the functions that the OPG carries out is safeguarding investigations and investigating allegations of abuse by court appointed deputies and attorneys who are acting under a registered LPA or court order. Anyone who has concerns about a deputy or attorney can report them to the OPG. The OPG will carry out an investigation if there are grounds to suggest that the best interests of the person at risk are not being met.
It is reported that there has been a significant increase in the number of applications to the Court of Protection by the OPG to censure or remove attorneys in 2018/19 – an increase of 55% on the previous year.
Many donors decide to make an LPA without professional advice and once the LPA is used by the attorney, there is little or no oversight – which can leave the system vulnerable to abuse.
If you are concerned about this, you should consider taking professional advice when you make an LPA. You might even want to appoint a professional attorney in addition to family members for peace of mind.
To discuss this or any other private client issue, contact us.