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A story in the news at the weekend highlighted an important point: how can you ensure you keep control of your finances, after you have legally signed them away?
I am referring to Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and there are two types. One outlines your wishes relating to your health and welfare after you lose mental capability. The other is a document that allows a nominated person to take control of your finances if you need help and support or if you are no longer able to do so yourself. Usually, parents pass this responsibility on to their children or close family member – after all you should be able to trust them implicitly, right?
Well, according to the weekend papers, an increasing number of older people are seeing their cash frittered away after an LPA comes into place. There was an example of a woman who spent £87,000 of her aunt’s money to open a reptile breeding business and a man who sold his father’s home to pay off his own mortgage. There was also the case of someone who used his mother’s money to pay for shopping, fuel and nights at the pub, only to put her in a care home – and didn’t pay the fees.
Government figures following investigations into LPA misuse, reveal they have more than doubled in the past two years. From April 2017 to March 2018 there were 1729 enquiries into the actions of attorneys. It is not only a real problem and a cause of heartache to families, but attorneys can also find themselves unwittingly falling foul of the rules.
Is there anything you can do to prevent this? After all, an LPA is meant to protect you, and your family, to provide a safety net for you in the event of you being unable to look after your financial affairs yourself.
It is possible to include additional clauses and safeguards into your LPA. For example, you can specify your preferences and give specific instructions, including requiring attorneys to keep accounts and have these checked annually. You can also outline any wishes relating to care and give additional guidance in a Letter of Wishes. It is also possible to draft in third parties, who can advise attorneys when carrying out their role to ensure they comply with the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and the supporting Code of Practice.
This is a particularly useful course of action where family circumstances are difficult or where there is no one suitable to act.
Downs Solicitors and Notaries can help.
We can advise ways to include safeguard clauses into your LPA and we can advise attorneys on compliance with the MCA – we can also actually act as attorneys and Court appointed Deputies, all depending on the circumstances. We can assist in matters where there is a dispute in the family, advise when there is an investigation by the Office of the Public Guardian, and where Court of Protection proceedings are issued. Please contact us for more information.