Elder abuse: how that expectation of trust can quickly go wrong

I wrote a blog recently about why it is important to seek legal advice when seeking an attorney. This related to some published findings about those acting on behalf of a vulnerable person – and whether or not their intentions were genuine.

Sadly, according to the findings by a law firm in London, the Office of the Public Guardian made 721 applications to the Court of Protection in 2018/19, which was a considerable rise on the year before. Each case was aimed at removing inappropriate attorneys, who were either abusing their position of power, or just simply acting on their own interests.

Whilst the Office of the Public Guardian is investigating more complaints than ever, this is not a new “trend” in society. Back in 1995, the Action on Elder group undertook consultations to establish a definition of what is now known as “elder abuse”. Since then, the definition has been adopted by the World Health Organisation and is even promoted by the International Network for the prevention of Elder Abuse and adopted by organisations around the world.

Elder abuse is defined as “a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”

It is this “expectation of trust” that is at the heart of the welfare of elderly or vulnerable people. Anyone can become a victim of elder abuse and, equally, the abuse can come from a number of sources. It’s important that any individual who comes into contact with a vulnerable person looks out for any signs of elder abuse, particularly as this can come in many forms.

People can be abused in many ways, but, all too often, finances are one of the main drivers. That’s why it is really important to protect any loved ones and, once any Lasting Power of Attorney or will has been written, thorough checks should be carried out to ensure any nominated attorney is the right person to be acting, financially or otherwise, on a vulnerable person’s behalf.

It’s always best to seek professional advice when nominating an attorney. If you would like any further information about a Lasting Power of Attorney, or with writing or updating your will, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.

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