In previous articles I have highlighted concerns regarding the number of attorneys being investigated by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and also how opportunities are being missed to draft safeguards in to Lasting Powers of Attorneys (LPAs). In this article I am going to consider how those same safeguards could be used to protect our pets.
It might seem odd to think of it in this way but pets are actually property and if you appoint an attorney without providing specific instructions for your pets, then it would fall to the attorney to determine what happens to them without your direction or control.
You probably wouldn’t leave your beloved pet in the care of a friend or family member for a weekend without some guidance about walks or their favourite treats. Yet, you could be leaving an attorney with unfettered autonomy over the future of your pet dog or cat. Of course, the attorney would have to be seen to be acting in your best interests but a pet is such a personal thing, how can anyone be sure that they will get this right?
As can be seen with the rise in OPG investigations, it is relatively common for attorneys to error in their decision making and I can’t imagine that the safeguarding of pets is high up on the list of the OPG’s priorities. Conversely most people with pets would probably say that their furry friend is more important to them than most other things including expensive assets. In a household fire it would most likely be the first thing you would try and save.
Sadly, I have seen cases where the management of an incapacitated person’s pet has gone badly wrong. It involved a deputy who separated a lady from her beloved dog. This had a profound adverse impact on the lady who due to her illness was unable to prevent this or direct the deputy to what she would have wanted to happen with her pet. This is where a well drafted LPA could have provided clear guidance and directions as to what should happen with the dog.
It’s not just cats and dogs either; it could be a pet snake, spider or any exotic animal that is important to you. It’s also helpful from the proposed attorney’s perspective. If someone was appointing me to act as their attorney then I would appreciate some direction regarding the care of their pets, especially if it had eight legs and can bite. A basic LPA doesn’t provide this and I think that we are missing these opportunities because we don’t think of our pets as property.
At Price Slater Gawne Solicitors we have developed a bespoke LPA that helps people to plan their own future alongside that of their pets. We are also promoting more complex LPA’s to help try and promote additional safeguards and avoid the problems that have contributed to the rise of investigations by the OPG.
If you would like to discuss these bespoke LPA’s or the protection of a vulnerable adult and their pets then please contact a member of the team on 0161 6155554, by email to email@example.com or by visiting our Altrincham office. Further information can also be found about making arrangements for pets here.