Solicitor Charlotte Mitchell looks at the pitfalls of making a Lasting Power of Attorney online
Are you thinking of making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)? If so, this article explains why you should avoid the temptation to opt for a ‘DIY’ LPA online and why you should use a Solicitor to prepare your LPA.
What is a LPA?
A LPA is a legal document which allows you to appoint individuals to make decisions for you (if you were to loose your ability to make decisions for yourself) about your property, money and care.
The risks of DIY LPA’s
In 2014 the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), which administers the system of LPA’s, launched an online tool which allows members of the public to create their own LPA’s without the need for professional advice from a Solicitor.
However, charities and bodies that represent older people have pointed out that DIY LPA’s place vulnerable individuals at greater risk of financial abuse from unscrupulous family members or friends.
Worryingly there is nothing to prevent someone from completing the LPA online on your behalf and appointing themselves to be your decision maker (known as an attorney) and then wrongly taking over control of your financial affairs.
A recent article published by the BBC highlights the risks. Frank Willett, a Second World War veteran, was exploited by his neighbour Colin Blake. In 2003 when Mr Willett was suffering from dementia, he made Mr Blake his attorney, giving him responsibility for his financial affairs. That year Mr Blake withdrew nearly £9,000 from Mr Willett’s account. There was no need for Mr Blake to contact Mr Willett’s family as he was operating under the LPA.
Denzil Lush, a retired senior judge of the Court of Protection (a Court that looks after the interests of those who lack mental capacity), has also recently warned of the risks of LPA’s.
Mr Lush has stressed that people should be far more aware of the risks involved and the ‘devastating’ effect LPA’s can have on family relationships if the correct process is not followed and the interests of vulnerable people are not protected.
Why it’s important to consult a Solicitor for a LPA
A LPA is an extremely powerful legal document and it is important to remember that the people you appoint as your attorneys will have the same control over your money, savings, investments and any property as you do.
A DIY LPA online tool can seem like a good idea and a way of avoiding legal charges, but you could place yourself at risk of financial abuse in the future. You could also end up with a LPA that does not work effectively for you in the future.
Anyone considering making a LPA should consult a Solicitor who specialises in this area. By consulting a Solicitor you can avoid the risk of being subjected to financial abuse and the Solicitor will also be able to advise you on issues that you had not previously thought about. This ensures your LPA is workable at a time you may need it in the future.
If you are considering making a LPA then please contact one of our experts today on 01271 372128. We offer specialist, independent and experienced advice.
We operate a fixed fee scheme for LPAs so you do not need to worry about expensive legal fees. We will guide you through the entire process to make sure you are taking the best steps to protect your interests.