Elderly people are becoming more and more vulnerable to financial fraud, usually carried out by family members. Marie Tisdale, partner and head of wills and probate at Ansons Solicitors in Lichfield, outlines how making lasting power of attorney has in-built fraud protection advantages.
A recent survey by accountancy group KPMG on county court cases in the last twelve months has revealed a five fold increase in fraud by family members upon their elderly relatives. It is estimated about £1.7 million has been stolen in reported crimes, but that is thought to be just the tip of the iceberg.
When you are in your advancing years it is not always easy to keep track of your finances and staying in contact with your bank and building societies can prove increasingly difficult. Family members may want to help you, and offer to manage your finances for you online or by proxy. Formalising any such arrangements by making a financial decisions lasting power of attorney will help to protect you from fraud and theft. You can appoint one or more people to act as your attorney, and it gives you the opportunity to appoint people who you trust to keep an eye on your finances and act on your behalf when necessary. Also a “certificate provider” signs the lasting power of attorney to confirm that you understand the consequences and that you are not being unduly influenced by anyone to make it.
Before a lasting power of attorney can be used it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian – this is additional level of protection for you. The Office of the Public Guardian is part of the Ministry of Justice and they keep a public register of all registered powers of attorney. They also oversee the conduct of the attorneys appointed. Any concern about the potential misuse of the lasting power of attorney can be reported to the Office of the Public Guardian who will investigate and can take action against the attorneys if it proves necessary. Anyone can make a report to the Office of the Public Guardian if they have concerns. This means that you are protected should your attorneys act inappropriately when using the lasting power of attorney on your behalf.
Once you have appointed attorneys they can act for you as little or as much as you want them to. They would only take only take over full the management of your finances if you no longer have the mental capacity to deal with matters yourself. In making a lasting power of attorney you have the assurance that you have chosen people you trust to act on your behalf and who will protect your finances for you.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date this article was published.
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