People taking on the responsibility of power of attorney need more education on what that responsibility entails.
This is the conclusion of new analysis by Royal London, which found that the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) conducted 1,729 investigations into the actions of attorneys and deputies in the 2017/2018 tax year – a sharp increase from 1,199 for the 2016/17 tax year.
Power of attorneys allow people to appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf should a time come when they lack the mental capacity to do so themselves. If the person has already lost mental capacity then the Court of Protection can appoint a deputy to make decisions on that person’s behalf.
There are currently two different types of power of attorney - one covering property and financial affairs and another covering health and welfare decisions. They have proven popular, with more than 2.3m registered with the OPG by April 2017. These were split into almost 1.6m covering property and financial affairs and a further 732,000 relating to health and wellbeing.
“When done properly the attorney fulfils a vital role in safeguarding the interests of the person they are acting for,” commented Helen Morrissey, personal finance specialist at Royal London. “However, the sheer number of investigations into the actions of attorneys is concerning and action needs to be taken to curb poor practice.”
“While there have been instances where people appointed as attorneys have used their position to steal money from the person they are acting for, there are also instances where the attorney has unwittingly stepped beyond the boundaries of their responsibilities or have neglected to keep up to date records explaining what they have done and why,” she said. “People taking on these responsibilities need clearer guidance on what they can and cannot do.”
When you instruct Sutton-Mattocks to advise on your Power of Attorney, Will or Probate matter, you will receive professional advice from one of our most experienced lawyers, who will remain your dedicated point of contact throughout. Please contact us today by filling in our online contact form, or phoning our Barnes office on 020 3870 4372 or Chiswick on 020 3697 0362.
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