The loss of the mental capacity needed to manage one’s own affairs isn’t only traumatic for the individual concerned – it can be a huge worry for the family too. Lasting powers of attorney, or LPAs, are a long-standing and trusted way of enabling a nominated party to take over financial and other official dealings.
Most of the time, LPAs work without a hitch, and give everyone concerned considerable peace of mind. However, problems can and do sometimes crop up, and to prevent vulnerable people being exploited as a result, the Court of Protection and the Office of the Public Guardian are there to intervene.
An intervention recently took place in the case of an elderly dementia sufferer who had set up an LPA for two of her four children prior to becoming ill, enabling them to manage her financial affairs. Warning bells rang for the Public Guardian when a sum of £75,000 – £15,000 to the daughter, £20,000 each to her three sons – was taken from the woman’s account, and an application was made for the LPA to be revoked.
The daughter’s defence was that she had left her job and become unemployed in order to become her mother’s carer. In addition, she said that her mother had been in agreement that she should help her financially, and that her three sons should have equal treatment financially.
Even though the judge concluded that the court would have been sympathetic to the daughter’s request had she applied for an allowance through the correct channels, she had failed to do so. In addition, the sum of £15,000 that she had allocated to herself from her mother’s account far exceeded what she would have been allowed as a gift within the confines of the law under the conditions of the LPA.
The Court of Protection also determined that the gift amounts of £20,000 to each of the three sons were also excessive. Having decided that the daughter and her brother had failed to carry out their duties as attorneys by contravening their authority as such, the court revoked the LPA. Since the woman still required an LPA, the local authority was appointed as her deputy to manage her affairs.
If you have any questions or concerns about the Court of Protection or Lasting Powers of Attorney arising from this, it is always best to discuss it with a solicitor.