A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a powerful legal document that allows a person (or ‘donor’) to choose one or more individuals (or ‘attorneys’) to handle their affairs in the event that they can no longer do so themselves, for example if they lose mental capacity.
Attorneys are able to make important decisions on behalf of the donor, involving their property, money, medical treatment and end of life wishes. As such, an LPA is an extremely important document with serious implications for all involved.
Whilst most Lasting Powers of Attorney are managed appropriately, with the donor central to all decision making and their best interests considered at all times, this is sadly not always the case. In fact, in the year 2017 – 18, there was a 40% increase in investigations into LPAs carried out by the Office of the Public Guardian, where it was suspected that powers were being abused.
With so much information readily available to assist people in implementing legal documents such as Wills and LPAs, there is a rapidly growing market for DIY legal forms that allow people to create legally binding documents themselves through shop-bought kits and online tools. Whilst such tools can be advantageous, there are a number of factors that must be taken into account such as restrictions that donors wish to incorporate into LPAs. Such restrictions will provide guidance to attorneys, but also assist in ensuring that a person’s wishes in relation to their welfare and finance decisions are taken into account. – Whilst DIY kits may appear on the surface to be a cost saving as opposed to using a solicitor, the longer term issues that can be faced are in fact much more costly to resolve both financially and in relation to the donors choices and lifestyle.
Without specialist legal advice there is a real risk that the person creating an LPA does not adequately express their wishes and preferences, leaving them with a document that is not fit for purpose and potentially leaving them open to financial abuse meaning that in the long run the initial saving was not worth it.
Whilst implementing Lasting Powers of Attorneys for both welfare and finance is a vital step, due consideration should be given to who you wish to appoint as attorneys, whether this is individually or jointly and what guidance and restrictions you wish to place within the documents. Seeking legal advice is essential in order to discuss your wishes with an independent professional who can provide clear, unambiguous guidance and can ensure your documents are fit for purpose.
If you would like to discuss putting LPAs in place and ensuring your wishes are clear to everyone, then please get in touch with us. We can offer appointments at our Altrincham offices or at a location to suit you.
If you have concerns that an attorney is abusing their power and wish to challenge the attorney to ensure your loved one is being looked after properly and fairly in line with their wishes, please contact our specialist solicitors Melanie Byrne on 07939 121341 or by email to Melanie.Byrne@psg-law.co.uk or Paul Baker on 07964 354451 or by email to Paul.Baker@psg-law.co.uk today. – We can arrange to meet with you at our offices or at a venue convenient to you.
We guarantee that we listen, respect your views, advise you properly and thoroughly, in total privacy and confidence.