The importance of using a solicitor when drafting a Lasting Power of Attorney has been dramatically highlighted by a significant increase in the number of investigations into the actions of attorneys and deputies in the past year.
According to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), there has been an almost 45 per cent increase with 1,729 investigations in the 2017/2018 financial year compared to 1,199 the previous year.
With an ageing population and more people than ever before deciding to appoint an LPA, the increase is thought to be due at least in part to a rise in DIY and online submissions.
Risk of mistakes and abuse
Wards Solicitors’ Partner Jenny Pierce, head of the Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity Team and service manager for our Vulnerable Clients Department, believes this is leaving people not only at risk of attorneys making mistakes but in some cases, of abusing their position too.
Jenny, also a director of Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) added: “These new statistics highlight the clear need for professional advice when considering drawing up a powerful legal document of this nature with the aim of specifically ensuring your wishes are respected should you ever lose capacity.
“Using a solicitor to create and register an LPA safeguards against it being drawn up with errors that turn out later to be expensive, time consuming and extremely stressful to put right.”
An LPA is a legal document that allows a person (the ‘donor’) to appoint trusted individuals to make important decisions on their behalf in the event of a loss of mental capacity through an accident or illness such as dementia.
One covers financial decision making and the other personal welfare decisions like where you live, your medical care, your clothes, diet and so forth.
In England and Wales there are more than 2.6 million Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPAs) registered with the single largest group being those for people aged between 81 and 90, closely followed by those between 71 and 80
Taking expert and professional legal guidance provides protection
Along with Solicitors for the Elderly, Wards Solicitors recommends a number of precautionary steps – including, in most cases, avoiding shop bought and online LPA kits – to ensure your lasting power of attorney is effective, legally robust and safe:
For more information about LPAs, please contact Wards Solicitors’ Will, Probate and Mental Capacity team, now one of the biggest and most experienced departments in the South West.
Wards Solicitors remains open for business during the national lockdown and we are taking on new cases. We are available for video call and telephone meetings but cannot currently offer face to face meetings with clients except in some specific emergency situations and at court hearings.
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