TaxAug 16 2017

Co-op warns about power of attorney

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Co-op warns about power of attorney

Choosing an individual to have lasting power of attorney is an important consideration which should not be undertaken lightly, warns Co-op Legal Services.

Co-op’s remarks follow comments of a retired senior judge, Denzil Lush, who has warned that the power of attorney system in England and Wales lacks adequate safeguards to protect people and their assets, according to an article published in Financial Times.

James Antoniou, head of wills & LPAs at Co-op Legal Services, said that Mr Lush’s comments serve as a reminder of the serious implications of putting a LPA in place.

He said: “While for the majority of people, putting in place a LPA can offer peace of mind that their affairs can be dealt with by a trusted loved one when the time comes, sadly there are cases of abuse.”

Mr Lush, who was the senior judge in the UK Court of Protection until last July, said that people should be far more aware of the risks involved in power of attorney arrangements, and that he would never sign one himself.

The Court of Protection grants the lasting power of attorney to the families of people who are deemed to lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions about their finances or their health and care.

There are 2.5 million power of attorney agreements currently registered in England and Wales.

According to Mr. Antoniou, there are things people can do to reduce the risk of a lasting power of attorney being misused.

“For example, ensuring that they take legal advice when the lasting power of attorney is prepared to understand the options available, the responsibilities placed on the attorney and the impact that certain decisions could have,” he said.

According to Co-op research, 84 per cent of UK adults don’t have a lasting power of attorney in place.

Of those who have such an arrangement, 45 per cent chose their son or daughter as an attorney.

maria.espadinha@ft.com