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Powers of Attorney: A risk worth taking?

Following a BBC News article in which Denzil Lush, a retired senior Judge warned people over Powers of Attorney, Maria Pusey of Astle Paterson’s Wills and Probate Department addresses the stated risks of having a Power of Attorney.

Maria said “The recent comments of Mr Lush could of course be troubling for anybody considering obtaining a Power of Attorney.

A Power of Attorney gives authority for somebody else to access your bank accounts – once the Power of Attorney is completed and registered, your Attorney can make withdrawals on your behalf.

Anybody considering preparing a Power of Attorney must therefore be certain that their proposed Attorney is trustworthy.  Unfortunately there have been some cases where an appointed Attorney has abused their position.   Such cases are in our experience unusual, but they are not non-existent.

Sadly, there are no perfect solution to this type of fraud.   When you grant a Power of Attorney to another person to allow them to manage your finances, it gives them the ability access your accounts, and unfortunately there will inevitably be some people who will use this access for their own personal gain.”

Maria continued “The alternative to a Power of Attorney is still an unattractive option to most people.  As should you lose the capacity to manage your own finances and you do not have a Power of Attorney in place, somebody on your behalf will be required to make an Application to the Court of Protection to appoint a Deputy.  The procedure is time consuming and costly, and the Court will appoint whoever it deems to be the most appropriate person to be your Deputy, which could include your family members (even if you are estranged from them), but could also include somebody else such as an accountant (who would make a charge for their time in acting on your behalf).

Given this is a procedure that would only be undertaken in the event that you had lost capacity, you would not be in a position to raise any objections to anybody the Court considered appropriate.”

Maria concluded “Whilst granting Power of Attorney to another does come with some risk, we advise it is the most cost effective method of securing your position in the unfortunate event of you losing capacity in the future.

In our experience, provided that any Attorneys are carefully selected by you, with our assistance if requested, the risks involved in granting a Power of Attorney are outweighed by the benefit of having one in place.”

For further information regarding Lasting Powers of Attorney please contact Maria Pusey of Astle Paterson on 01283 531366 or by way of email at mpusey@astlepaterson.co.uk

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