Legal Power of Attorney: the pros and cons

MOSSLEY solicitor Claire Atkinson has responded to criticism from a top former judge on the effectiveness of power of attorney orders.

Claire Atkinson

Denzil Lush, who sat in the Court of Protection for two decades, suggests the orders are open to financial abuse and can have a “devastating” effect on family relationships.

Around 2.5 million power of attorney documents are currently registered.

A trusted appointed individual or individuals are allowed to take decisions about care and finance in the event of a loss of mental capacity through an accident or illness such as dementia.

Mr Lush, in a new foreword to his book, argues: “A lack of transparency causes suspicions and concerns which tend to rise in a crescendo and eventually explode”.

He says the Ministry of Justice has been “disingenuous” in promoting them.

However, Claire Atkinson, a solicitor at Harold Stock & Co and also a member of national organisation Solicitors for the Elderly – said LPAs are effective safeguards when created responsibly.

“Senior Judge Lush’s comments have given rise to fears that LPAs are a direct avenue for financial abuse,” she said.

“However, his comments must be put into context, as his 20-year career at the Court of Protection will have presented him with the very worst cases of financial abuse.

“An LPA can be a positive and effective legal tool, which ensures your wishes are respected should you ever lose capacity. Senior Judge Lush’s comments should highlight the clear need for professional advice when considering powerful legal documents of this nature.”

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