Dangers Of DIY Lasting Power Of Attorney

Date Added 17.11.16

In the news this week, many organisations that represent and provide services for the elderly have come together to raise concerns about the Government’s online tool for creating LPAs (Lasting Power of Attorney).

Launched in May of 2014 by the Governments Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), the online tool allows people to create the documents with no professional assistance or advice from a solicitor.

A report published by a coalition of organisations led by the Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) outlines the risks and benefits of the different ways of creating an LPA. The report warns that anyone creating an LPA without taking specialist legal advice faces a significantly higher risk of being left with an ineffective legal document, incurring additional application fees, and even becoming a victim of fraud or coercion.

Karon Walton, head of the Elderly and Vulnerable Client Unit here at Tollers says, “It is so concerning that people are putting themselves at risk when granting authority for someone else to make decisions about their finances and their health without seeking specialist advice from a legal expert”.

The study conducted for the report revealed that when creating LPAs using the OPG’s online tool and other DIY methods:

  • Some participants did not accurately outline the way in which they want their affairs and welfare to be handled in the future
  • Documents made using DIY methods were more likely to contain elementary mistakes, rendering them ineffective and requiring additional application fees
  • Following consultation with a solicitor, most participants made significant changes to the permissions of their documents regarding how and by whom their affairs were managed

Dangers Of DIY Lasting Power Of Attorney

Karon went on to say, “Using a DYI tool or using the online digital system does not allow people to get all of the information they require to make an informed decision as to the complexities that surround powers of attorney and what legal rights they are granting to others.  By using an independent specialist this allows them to think of circumstances that they may not have considered.”

The organisations behind this campaign say the OPG is leaving people exposed to unacceptable levels of risk and so failing to uphold its statutory duty to safeguard those who are most vulnerable.  Over half a million LPA have been created through the digital service since its launch, and the OPG is pushing to meets its set target of 30% of all applications to be made through the online digital service between April 2017 and March 2017.

Karon, who is SFE accredited, goes on to advise:

“This is a specialist area of law, and I recommend that anyone considering creating an LPA should see legal advice to ensure that they safeguard their future”.

Although creating a Lasting Power of Attorney online may seem like a quick, easy and less expensive option, it could prove to be a very costly mistake, as Karon explains, “Whilst, it appears easy to create a Lasting Power of Attorney online, if you get it wrong then it could cost you significant amounts of money to instruct a specialist lawyer to untangle the situation and correct it or in a worse case situation have to make a Court application to a Judge to make a direction on it.  It is also concerning that third parties who take on the role of Attorney for others do not have any idea of what legal rights or duties they have with regards to decision making, which can then lead to mistakes such as using money incorrectly, gifting without authority or not acting in the person’s best interest”

If you have questions relating the creation of Lasting Powers of Attorney, Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 and one of our specialist solicitors will be happy to help and advise.

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