Britain’s power of attorney crisis

Britain’s power of attorney crisis

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A recent investigation by Money Mail has found that some people were unhappy with the service they received when applying for Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA). It seems that Britain’s power of attorney system is creaking, as demand from an ageing population increases and bank officials struggle to keep up.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

An LPA is a legal document that allows you to choose a trusted confidante – the Attorney – to make important decisions on your behalf. An LPA can be made at any time, by anyone aged 18 or over with the mental capacity to do so, but can only be used after being registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

It is a safe assumption that when someone invokes an existing LPA, it is due to an unforeseen and sometimes stressful change in circumstances. Often, an LPA is required to oversee the finances of a loved one in the event of their becoming unable to look after their personal welfare or property and affairs. For instance, to pay a relative’s care home fees or living expenses.

Dealing with paperwork, legal battles, delays and communication problems with banks is an additional burden that many can do without however that is exactly what many people have experienced, according to the Daily Mail’s Money Mail investigation.

Access and communications issues

The headline news coming out of the investigation suggest that:-

  • Even with an LPA, some families are forced to fight for months to access their loved ones’ bank accounts.
  • Banks are sending bills to customers with dementia when they should be sent to their attorney instead.
  • Relatives are being asked up to ten times for information they have already provided because banks keep losing vital paperwork.
  • Banks are mistakenly registering people’s solicitors as their Attorneys, rather than a family member.
  • Families are being forced to ask solicitors to accompany them to the bank to prove they have the right to withdraw money.

LPAs are a fundamental planning tool

With an ageing population comes a subsequent growing need for Lasting Powers of Attorney. Average life expectancy in England is now 81 years (79.5 for men and 83.2 for women). Yet, although we are experiencing longer lives as a nation, rarely do we see out those years in perfect health and that is precisely why an LPA should be considered as much of a fundamental planning tool as life insurance or a will.

According to the Daily Mail’s Victoria Bischoff: “More than 225,000 people are diagnosed with dementia each year and the number of sufferers is expected to reach one million by 2025. There are also 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK. Power of attorney allows you to specify in a legal document who you would want to manage your financial affairs should you need help later in life. Without it, your loved ones will be left facing an administrative nightmare.

“A major push by the Government to raise awareness of this vital piece of paper caused the number of people registering a lasting power of attorney between 2014 and 2015 to soar by 34 per cent, from 295,000 to 395,000. But officials were poorly prepared for the flood of enquiries. As a result, complaints to the Office of the Public Guardian, which processes power of attorney applications, rocketed 80 per cent to 6,376 in the same period. Most were from people left waiting months for an attorney to be registered,” she added.

Acumen’s LPA services

Perhaps inevitably, complaints against banks from customers who have either set up powers of attorney themselves or who are acting as attorneys for someone close to them, have also steadily increased. The Financial Ombudsman now receives 30 to 40 cases a month involving highly distressing situations. Here at Acumen, we want to take away all the headache and hassle that has unfortunately crept into the power of attorney process for some. Our objective is to take care of all the financial aspects, so that you can take care of day to day matters.

As part of Acumen’s LPA services, we can offer you:

  • Management of all your financial plans and advice.
  • Continuity with financial and estate planning.
  • Ensuring the right person manages your estate.
  • Independent support through the whole process.

Speak to an Acumen Adviser today for more information about all our Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) services. Call us on 0151 520 4353 or email

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