Court Action Against Attorneys Reaches Record High Levels
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has taken drastic action against hundreds of attorneys alleged to have exploited their position in 2018/2019, reaching the largest number ever recorded.
The OPG has applied for court orders against attorneys alleged to have misbehaved badly in over 700 cases in the past 12 months. According to data derived by law firm Nockolds, the number of legal actions taken by the OPG against people with lasting power of attorneys has more than doubled over the two years.
The data reveals that the number of misuse cases is increasing at a faster rate than the number of attorneys on the register itself. This may well suggest that financial misconduct is becoming excessively common among attorneys.
The most common reasons for having attorneys removed from their position are making inappropriate gifts and not acting in the donor’s best interests.
The OPG only takes action against attorneys with court proceedings when they are still handling the donor’s financial matters, but wrongdoing by attorneys is only picked up following the death of the donor. Therefore, the number of attorneys that are censured due to the abuse is only a small proportion of actual cases of financial abuse that occurs. More often the OPG hands are tied and they cannot take legal action in a lot of cases of financial abuse because they are informed by relatives and care homes who are not supposed to advise of the offences.
The OPG began nearly 3,000 safeguarding investigations during 2018/2019, 53% more than in the previous year.
The continuing threat to the older population when appointing an attorney whom they trust to look after them is ever-growing. With the Office for National Statistics ‘Overview of the UK Population: July 2017’ reporting the UK population is getting older with 18% aged 65 and over and 2.4% aged 85 and over, along with mental incapacity – has meant financial abuse of this vulnerable group is on the increase.
Are you seeing an increase in attorney financial abuse?