The Financial Times has recently reported that there has been a 71% increase in the number of court actions against people acting under a lasting power of attorney (LPA) for vulnerable people.
LPA’s can relate to property and finances or health and welfare decisions and are created when a person still has capacity to decide who they would wish to act for them ( their attorneys) in circumstances where they may lack capacity in the future to make decisions for themselves.
From 2017-2018, The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is said to have made 465 applications to the Court of Protection for the censure or removal of an attorney, while there were 272 made during the previous period.
The most common reasons cited for having attorneys censured or removed were due to them having made improper gifts or failing to act in the best interests of the vulnerable person.
What the figures from the OPG demonstrate is the important decision to be made by clients who are considering the appointment of attorneys under an LPA. Attorneys should always be people that a client trusts implicitly and who will have regard to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and its Code of Practice and will always act in the client’s best interests.
The cases brought to the attention of the OPG referred to above show that sometimes despite a client choosing people that they believe they can trust there can be times where they are seriously let down by their attorney. This might be because the attorney fails to take account of the wishes of the client or to act in their best interests or may use their money inappropriately to make gifts to themselves or others that they are not authorised to make.
Concerns surrounding the actions of an attorney can sometimes be picked up by other relatives, care home staff or local authorities who are able to contact the OPG and raise the alarm.
If you suspect that a vulnerable person is being financially abused under an LPA it’s important to speak up. Farleys Solicitors LLP has a dedicated Court of Protection team who are able to discuss your concerns and provide advice on action that can be taken to protect the vulnerable person. Call us on 0845 287 0939 or email us.