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Advice for attorneys under a lasting power of attorney (LPA)

View profile for Claire Read
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I googled “carer jailed for theft in Essex” and was quite horrified at the number of entries that came up. There was a case last week that I blogged on regarding a carer who was jailed for stealing from an elderly lady, (read it here) and it got me thinking about the sorts of things that attorneys could consider.  

The first thing an attorney must do is act in the best interests of the donor (the person who created the LPA). 

Secondly, an attorney must try to help the donor make the decisions themselves rather than just taking over. This is where problems can arise. How do you balance the need of the donor to make decisions themselves but still protect them and act in their best interests? This is particularly called into focus where there are carers or third parties involved who could access the donor’s funds or influence the donor to spend money in a particular way. 

The family in this case trusted the carer. That is no criticism, as conmen (like in this case) are very good at gaining trust, but there are risks that attorneys and family members should consider no matter who the carer is.

Advice for attorneys concerned about financial abuse of an elderly relative

My advice to attorneys in these circumstances is:

  • speak to the donor and consider having a separate account with a balance paid in each month. The donor controls this, but the risk of fraud or wrong influence is limited; or 
  • another option is to leave the accounts as they are but ensure that bank statements are sent to the attorney for them to monitor each month (or have on-line access). Again by monitoring the payments and the types of payment, the risk of fraud is reduced. 

If you are an attorney and would like some guidance on how to protect your loved one from financial abuse, then please give us a call. I am based at our Chelmsford office and can be reached on 01245 453835 or claire.read@birkettlong.co.uk

 

 

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