Abuse of Power
A retired Court of Protection judge, Denzil Lush, has recently made headlines with his comments about powers of attorney and the opportunities they allow for financial abuse. He drew particular attention to the possibility of children taking advantage of their parents, and the impact this can have amongst siblings.
However, it is worth noting that Denzil Lush’s previous career, as a judge in the Court of Protection, meant that he encountered the cases where abuse was alleged and or proved. What he did not encounter were the many cases where a power of attorney worked well and the chosen attorney(s) carried out their duties and acted continually in the best interests of the person who had granted that power.
Denzil Lush was referring to Lasting Powers of Attorney for financial affairs, which allow an individual to appoint one or more attorneys to deal with their financial affairs. This power lasts until that individual dies, and so the attorney(s) can act should that individual lose mental capacity.
While you can never eliminate the risk of abuse, we will always recommend that you choose an attorney, or attorneys, who you trust completely. We will also recommend that the whole family is aware of what you are doing, and we can suggest additional measures if you have any concerns, such as a requirement for your attorneys to prepare annual accounts.
If an individual loses mental capacity and does not have an LPA in place, then a costly and time consuming application to the Court of Protection is required in order for a deputy to be appointed to take care of their financial affairs. This is never an ideal outcome and so, if you are in the fortunate position of having a family member you can trust, then our advice is to consider an LPA.
By Anna Wensley Stock
Last updated 17/08/2017