Attorneys Face Increased Complaints Regarding LPA Abuse

The government carried out almost 50% more investigations concerning abuse complaints regarding lasting powers of attorney (LPA) in 2018.

In total, the Office of the Public Guardian received 5,245 claims that attorneys were abusing their donor’s finances last year.

This is more claims of abuse than the OPG has ever had to deal with. As will contestation claims and contentious probate cases continue to rise with warring families disputing the estate of a loved one, the influx of additional abuse cases involving living incapacitated cases could also continue rising.

Although every case is reviewed and considered, 3,359 allegations of attorneys abusing their position were not considered viable cases that required further investigation.

However, the 1,886 cases that were investigated represents a 50% increase in investigations compared with those carried out in 2017.

As estate disputes are expanding and occurring during the donor’s lifetime, it is becoming clear that modern life is creating a perfect storm for LPA complaints increasing in the future.

Firstly, a recent report claimed that people over 45-years-old are reluctant to create a lasting power of attorney because they do not trust their younger relatives to act as their attorney.

The Co-op Legal Services report also indicated that 74% of those aged between 65 and 74-years-old have failed to make a lasting power of attorney and 35% have no intention of doing so. When the population continues to age, making an LPA in later life could result in more loved ones successfully challenging the testamentary capacity of a donor’s decision.

The ‘modern lifestyle’ has also led to a significant increase in blended families and second marriages which could cause additional conflict when attorneys are chosen.

Kelly Greig, of Irwin Mitchell, commented: “The cost of a complaint is a massive drain on a mentally incapacitated person’s finances. Those putting a power of attorney in place need to think carefully about who they appoint – for instance, is it the best idea to put all of your children as attorneys when they’re constantly at war with one another?”

James Antoniou, head of wills at the Co-op said: “It’s concerning that so many people are not protecting themselves by properly planning ahead for later life.

“While our research shows that part of the reason is due to people not knowing who to fully trust to make important decisions on their behalf, there is clearly still a serious lack of awareness of the importance and benefits of putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place.

“A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legally recognised way for a person to choose trusted individuals to make decisions about their finances and also their personal welfare which, most importantly, continues in force even after that person becomes unable to make such decisions themselves.”

Do you think that increases in LPA attorney complaints will continue in the future? Should more people make LPAs before they reach later life?

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