Registrations of Lasting Power of Attorneys rise
It maintains a strong upward trend, driven by increased publicity and new online forms introduced in July 2015 making it simpler and faster to apply for LPAs.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document by which you appoint people you trust to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so yourself in the future. These people are referred to as your Attorneys.
Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert at Old Mutual Wealth said the increase is encouraging. However, she said ‘dangerous misconceptions’ exist and recommended an awareness campaign on the importance of LPA and a 10 year review of the system.
She added: “In a recent paper the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) suggested that power of attorney should be granted online and not require a wet signature. While it is important to make it easy for older customers to deal with their finances, it’s also crucial to remember that older customers are often the main targets for scams and so we would caution that any other third party work-around should be used sparingly and have a robust framework. Otherwise, firms risk creating a hotbed for scam artists looking to take advantage of older customers.
Griffin added that Lasting Power of Attorney were still very important, with 40% of all people over 65 having a limiting longstanding illness: “People often do not plan for the increasing possibility they may have a mental or physical illness in their later life, leaving them financially vulnerable. As dementia continues to rise there is an increasing population that is susceptible to theft or illegal use of their property, money or other valuables. A LPA can only be registered while you have mental capacity – once you’ve lost capacity it is too late.”
Former Court of Protection judge Denzil Lush raised concerns in April this year about whether Power of Attorneys had adequate safeguards, saying he would never sign one. Griffin said that a review of the system would offer the Ministry of Justice an opportunity to look at the current protections in place and consider if a protector type role should be extended across all Power of Attorneys.