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Lasting Powers of Attorney – what are the risks?

Jade Paine

23rd January 2019

Lasting Powers of Attorney (“LPA’s”) are documents which can be prepared by you to appoint another individual or individuals to help you make decisions about your Property and Financial Affairs and/or your Health and Welfare, if you are unable to make these decisions yourself as you have lost capacity. These appointed individuals are known as Attorneys.  A sensible enough move, and yet the Sunday Times has reported recently that government investigations into the misuse of LPAs have risen dramatically in recent years.

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is the governing body responsible for registering LPAs as well as dealing with any concerns raised about the actions of appointed Attorneys. The OPG looked into 1,897 cases relating to such concerns between 2016 and 2017 which is a 50% increase on the number of investigations from the year before.

What powers are granted to the Attorney?

When you create a Property and Financial Affairs LPA, you’re granting your Attorneys wide powers to deal with all your assets, including access to all your bank accounts and investments as well as the ability to sell your property.

However, you can limit the scope of your Attorneys powers by including instructions to your Attorneys in the LPA which your Attorneys are legally obliged to follow.

Choose your Attorney carefully 

You should think carefully about whom you appoint as your Attorney as it should be somebody you trust to look after your assets for you and to act in your best interest at all times. If you think that the person you choose may lead to a dispute with your family or friends, then you should consider notifying them at the outset of your intention to make an LPA to prevent the dispute occurring after the LPA has been registered.  

Why an increase in investigations? 

There are approximately 3.5 million LPAs registered, and the reported investigations make up a small proportion. However, it is a good idea to seek legal advice before entering into Lasting Powers of Attorney so that we can discuss your individual circumstances to try and mitigate any risks.

There are a number of external factors that may help explain the increase:

  • More LPAs are being registered and used.
  • A change in the LPA registration process as notifying independent 3rd parties of your intention to make an LPA is no longer required.
  • Increased public knowledge about reporting attorneys to the OPG as cases are reported more frequently in local and national press.
  • The possibility that the OPG’s online system for preparing LPAs has opened up potential abuse with homemade LPAs.

We can help 

Do contact our team of experts on 01273 324 041 or email enquiries@griffithsmith.co.uk if you would like to discuss any of the above matters in complete confidence.

And if you have any concerns or suspicions about any form of abuse by an Attorney, please contact the OPG on 0115 934 2777 for the matter to be investigated.

Author: Jade Paine, Solicitor, Tax, Trusts and Estates team


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