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LPAs: 'oversimplified and dangerous'

'If someone makes an LPA with incorrect provisions which make it useless, it will still be registered'

24 August 2015

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The new simplified application process for registering a lasting power of attorney (LPA) removes crucial safeguards that could lead to abuse of the system.

The warning comes from law firm Moore Blatch, whose head of their Court of Protection team, Fiona Heald, said, 'We welcome any initiative that encourages people to put in place an LPA, however simplification must not mean greater scope for fraud or abuse.

'Given the nature of an LPA, such abuse may never be discovered, especially where it is enacted for mental health reasons as the 'applicant' may never be in a position to expose the fraud.'

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) introduced new forms for registering an LPA on 1 July 2015, in an attempt to increase the take up of LPAs - only around 15 per cent of people aged over 75 have an LPA.

However from the outset of the changes, concerns about oversimplification of the process were widely voiced.

Moore Blatch have expressed particular concern over the certification page in the forms, where a third party certificate provider signs to say that the donor understands what is being signed.

This is particularly dangerous, the firm warns, because 'there is no way of checking whether the person signing this part of the form has the relevant qualifications to do so'.

There is also no longer a need to notify third parties that an LPA has been registered, which removes another important safety net.

As well as suffering from these shortcomings, the simplified process may still not have the desired effect, Heald says.

While more LPAs may be registered as a result of the changes, there is no way to measure their effectiveness. This is only likely to be known when they're actually needed, at which point, it is usually too late.

'LPAs are complex and many people still require legal advice as it is really very easy to get them wrong and many people do', Heald explained.

'The Office of Public Guardian does not have the resources to check if the power will work; they only police those that are not made in accordance with the legislation, so if someone makes an LPA with incorrect provisions which make it useless, it will still be registered.'

She added: 'Unfortunately, people think if the LPA is registered it is all OK, but that is not the case, and they often find this out when it's too late.'

 

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