Retired Senior Judge at the Court of Protection Denzil Lush has warned of the lack of safeguards in the Power of Attorney system in England and Wales.
In comments made to the BBC Mr Lush warned that lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) may leave elderly people open to financial abuse and can have a ‘devastating effect’ on family relationships.
LPAs are powerful legal documents that allow a person to appoint a trusted individual or individuals to make important decisions about finances and care on their behalf, They will continue to have legal effect in the event of a loss of mental capacity through an accident or illness such as dementia.
Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), a national organisation of solicitors and barristers who provide specialist legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers defended LPAs.
In response to Mr Lush’s comments SFE stated that, created responsibly and with the right advice, LPAs are effective safeguards. SFE commented that ‘an LPA can be a positive and effective legal tool, which ensures your wishes are respected should you ever lose capacity’ and highlighted the ‘clear need for professional advice when considering powerful legal documents of this nature’.
SFE’s top tips are to plan early, while you have capacity, choose your attorney carefully and consider appointing a professional, address and discuss the difficult issues such as those relating to your healthcare and most importantly, to seek professional legal advice at an early stage.
Belinda Harvey, Senior Solicitor in HMG Law’s Private Client department and member of SFE, regularly provides advice to relating to LPAs and appointment of deputies. If you require any advice in relation to appointing an attorney or have concerns about an attorney please contact our Oxford office on 01865 244661.