This article highlights the growing problem of financial abuse of the elderly which must cause some concern among lawyers involved with preparation of Lasting Powers of Attorney. The conundrum is that whilst a donor should only appoint someone they completely trust, financial abuse is often undertaken by those in positions of trust. So what can be done? Appointing more than one attorney to act jointly on decisions, including a professional attorney or adding restrictions are options but there are downsides to these. Is there an answer and do current safeguards go far enough?
In recent years there has been a significant rise in the number of reported cases of financial abuse of elderly victims leading to an increase in the number of court cases whereby carers or those granted power of attorney, have been convicted of fraudulently spending their relative’s or friend’s money improperly. It was reported in 2015 that around 103,000 calls were made to adult protection helplines with over 26,000 of those callers reporting financial abuse. The vast majority of calls made were relating to elderly people or those with limited mental capacity.