A recently published report by a Government think-tank has recommended that the rules governing lasting power of attorney
(‘LPA’) are tightened up to protect vulnerable people from increasingly sophisticated fraud.
A lasting power of attorney is a legal agreement and process that lets an individual appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help them make decisions or to make decisions on their behalf. These can be financial decisions, or may be care-related decisions. The report, published by Demos
in collaboration with the UK’s fraud prevention service Cifas
, recommends that the current power of attorney system needs to be improved, especially in light of the increasing prevalence of digital / online fraud.
Recommended LPA changes
The report identifies a number of key recommendations, including:
• Individuals being proposed as an LPA should undergo detailed criminal record and credit checks
• Intelligence sharing to be increased amongst various agencies, with particular focus on having access to ‘suckers lists’ that fraudsters use to target vulnerable individuals
• Creation of a central LPA Register listing all individuals currently appointed as LPA’s or similar Court of Protection laws. To be available as a continually updated register to help solicitors and financial services companies identify potentially fraudulent activity.
The current process and laws around the appointment of LPA’s does not provide much protection from fraudsters. Once an LPA (or LPA’s) are appointed, other individuals involved – typically other family members or concerned family friends - are very much ‘blocked’ from contributing to decision making around the subject’s financial situation or ongoing care needs.
LPA's and Digital fraud
The report highlights how digital and online fraud is growing when LPA’s are appointed. Potential abusive or fraudulent activity include gifting money to the attorney and hiding or spending assets to avoid having to pay for care costs. The report reveals that in 2017-18, the Office of the Public Guardian, responsible for overseeing lasting power of attorney, received 5,245 safeguarding referrals and accepted 1,886 for further investigation. A Demos spokesperson, commenting on the flaws in the current system, said:
"Power of attorney is seen as a blanket operation, where the attorney takes over someone’s affairs once they lose capacity. This is not in keeping with the reality of capacity, which is decision-specific, and often fluctuating."
Professional LPA advice
If you need help with probate, a will or a lasting power of attorney, Bakers Solicitors have friendly and approachable experts who are here to help. Call now on
(01252) 744637 and speak to Simon, our Estate Planning Manager, or email email@example.com