Sadly, it's a stark reality that financial abuse of the elderly is becoming more and more prevalent. Recent data revealed that those aged over 65 are those most at risk from being targeted.
When an Attorney starts to act on behalf of the Donor (the person creating the LPA and giving the power to the Attorney) there is a responsibility on the Attorneys to safeguard the finances of the Donor.
It is important that an Attorney is fully aware of their duties under an LPA so they can prevent financial abuse. Often Attorneys misunderstand their position and may unwillingly commit financial abuse as a result. A common misconception is that Attorneys have the power to give gifts or to undertake tax planning on behalf of the Donor.
Attorneys should be vigilant and keep an eye out for anything that may be unusual including a change in behaviour or pattern of the Donor. A common example is an individual that was not previously involved in the Donor's life suddenly inserting themselves in their life.
How to spot financial abuse
Financial abuse comes in many forms. Some typical examples might include:
- The misuse of a person’s funds or assets
- Excessive gifts
- An individual having a significant involvement in a person's life/finances
- Not acting in a person’s best interests when managing their affairs
- Unpaid bills (particularly care home fees)
- Opening a credit card account or making loan applications for the person
- High risk investments
- Not keeping appropriate records.
If you suspect financial abuse of an elderly person you should report it as soon as possible. Depending on the nature of the abuse you could report it to the Police, the elderly person’s GP or Adult Social Services at the local council. If you are not sure about what to do, you can call helplines such as Action on Elder Abuse (0808 808 8141) and Age UK (0800 678 1174).
If you are an Attorney and would like to understand your role and responsibilities more please do not hesitate to contact us on 01252 907829 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.