Protect yourself with professional advice for LPAs
Sensible planning for the future through professional advice means you can have peace of mind should the worst happen, says Wake Smith Solicitors’ Private Client director Suzanne Porter.
A Lasting Power of Attorney or LPA can be drawn up by Wake Smith which allows you to choose someone, called an attorney, to take certain decisions on your behalf should you not be able to through mental incapacity.
With the latest research from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) identifying a record 55 per cent rise in the number of people being censured or removed as attorneys for vulnerable people by the courts, Suzanne says talking to a professional early is key.
Suzanne Porter, director and head of the Private Client team at Wake Smith Solicitors, said: “Many lasting powers of attorney are created without professional advice, meaning the system is wide open to abuse.
“The statistics show that the number of legal actions taken against people with power of attorney has more than doubled over the past two years.
“The OPG is often tipped off by relatives, care homes and local authorities but these organisations have limited opportunities to identify whether inappropriate transfers have been made, or whether attorneys are really acting in the best interest of vulnerable people.
“But by using professional advice, an LPA can be correctly set up and put away for an eventuality which, hopefully, will never arise. You, though, will have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that, if the worst does happen, someone you trust will be able to make decisions on your behalf through this professional and legally binding document.”
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) made 721 applications to the Court of Protection to censure or remove attorneys in 2018/19 – up 55% per cent from the previous year’s total of 465.
Making improper gifts and not acting in the vulnerable person’s best interests were two of the main reasons for having attorneys censured or removed.
In addition to these actions, the OPG launched 2,883 safeguarding investigations in 2018/19 – up 54 per cent on 2017/18 figure of 1,871.
Wake Smith Solicitors’ private client department’s niche strengths are inheritance tax planning, usually via Wills and trusts, and dealing with the affairs of the elderly and vulnerable by means of Lasting Powers of Attorney and Deputyship orders if there is no LPA in place.