Always seek legal advice when nominating an attorney

In an article published recently by the Law Society Gazette, a law firm in London published findings of a survey relating to Lasting Powers of Attorney – specifically for those who act on behalf of a vulnerable person.

I wrote a blog recently about a change in the law to allow parents more rights over their children who may lack the capability of making decisions for themselves, for example, if they have a learning disability.

Under the new ruling, families would be able to make decisions more speedily for their children and are no longer be at risk of being ignored where decisions relating to their children are being made. Whilst this has been a huge success, it looks as though some vulnerable people are far from satisfied.

According to the article in the Law Society Gazette, The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) made 721 applications to the Court of Protection in 2018/19 – up 55% from 2017/18. Their purpose was to censure or remove attorneys from those who are acting on behalf of vulnerable individuals, with many cases stating that many lasting powers of attorney are created without any professional advice, leaving them “wide open to abuse”.

The OPG also launched 2,883 investigations into attorneys in 2018/19, up 54% on the year before.

The problem is, a lot of the stories go untold. If a vulnerable individual is unable to lodge a complaint about the attorney, then they are hugely at risk of slipping under the radar. Sometimes, any misconduct tends to come to light after the donor has passed away. The OPG simply relies on being tipped off by concerned onlookers, or friends and family.

However, with such a steep rise in complaints, with potentially thousands more undiscovered, it leaves us wondering if there are sufficient safeguards in place. That’s why it’s always recommended that professional or legal advice is sought when an attorney is nominated.

At Downs Solicitors, our Private Client team can draw up any Lasting Power of Attorney document that is right for you and your family, as well as help update or write a will. Contact us to see how we can help.

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