Since 2016 the number of people appointed to act for another in relation to their finances and health has increased by one third, and a staggering 192% since 2013.

There are a number of reasons which could explain this increase, however it is accepted within the industry that there has been a tightening up by banks and other institutions in allowing family members to access bank accounts and generally to act on another’s behalf without a Power of Attorney. With such documents, there is a legal obligation on the part of the bank, NHS etc, to allow an attorney to act for a donor.

Another obvious factor is an ageing population and suffers of dementia. The NHS records show that in 2016 a total of 535,000 people had been diagnosed with the condition, a doubling in this figure in a decade.

In a previous article we outlined an increase in those challenging such powers in Bristol, and nationally an increase of 71% on just 12 months between 2016/17 and 2017/18 has been recorded. A similar figure for safeguard investigations by the Office of the Public Guardian was seen.

Even with the tightening of safeguards from the old enduring Power of Attorney, the new Lasting Power of Attorney is still open to abuse, particularly if made without the assistance of professional help. The key issue is one of trust and any attorney must always act in the best interests of the donor, even if they consider their decisions to be unwise ones.

The documents can provide considerable peace of mind for a donor in the years ahead and their increased use on a whole must be seen as positive development. However they are far reaching documents and careful consideration must be made before embarking on their preparation. A nominated person has far reaching powers to access finances and decide on medical treatments.

One word of caution. DIY documents can be prepared incorrectly and if not submitted for registration at the same time, could result in the refusal of the registration at a later time. If the donor has lost mental capacity at that stage, an application for Power of Attorney can no longer be made and the only recourse is the lengthy and costly exercise of applying to the Court of Protection.

By obtaining your Lasting Power of Attorney through the services of Rose & Trust of Bristol, you are certain that all the necessary checks and balances are made. A fully authorised, regulated and experienced legal adviser would deal with all aspects of the paperwork and provide the donor and family members with advice should they have concerns about the use of the power in the years to come.