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The mismanagement and abuse of lasting power of attorneys is rising, Irwin Mitchell warns

05/07/2018 News Team

The mismanagement and abuse of lasting power of attorneys (LPAs) is on the rise, solicitors at national law firm Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth has warned, after Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon is suing his family for mismanagement of his finances. 

Mr Aldrin is suing his two youngest children and his former manager following their attempted petition to be named as his legal guardians, citing excessive spending and associations with new friends who intended to alienate his family.

Mr Aldrin is suing them in US courts, alleging they had unlawfully taken control of his finances and had prevented him from getting married. Mr Aldrin’s mental state will be assessed later this week.

Although this case is based in the US, experts in later life planning at Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth are warning the mismanagement and abuse of LPAs and guardianships is becoming increasingly common.

LPAs are designed to protect those who have lost capacity by appointing a trusted third-party to make decisions on their behalf. However, an elderly or vulnerable person can be taken advantage of and have an LPA put in place when they are not mentally capable or appointed someone who is not fit to undertake the role.

Kelly Greig, partner and head of planning for later life at Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth said: “Abuse of LPAs is increasing year on year as they become more common and sadly it’s much more prevalent than people realise. Every week there is a new story on an elderly or vulnerable person whose entire life savings have been drained in a matter of months, but these reports only scratch the surface.

“There is a complete lack of understanding surrounding LPAs and just how much power they give to a third party. They’re designed to help people but it can easily turn the other way if specialist help isn’t involved.”

Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) recently published a report which found that while 12.8 million people in the UK over the age of 65 are at risk of developing dementia, only 928,000 Health and Welfare LPAs are registered. While 73 percent of the population are concerned about losing capacity, 36 percent of people had not prepared in any way for later life.

Ms Greig continued: “Planning for later life is not something people want to think about let alone speak to family and friends about and it can all too easily be cast to the back of one’s mind. However, the UK’s adult population is at serious risk of being exploited by nefarious parties if prior planning isn’t considered. Most people understand that you need a will and a pension, but LPAs haven’t really reached that level yet despite people living longer and healthcare improving year on year.

“It’s vital to seek advice at the earliest opportunity. What you may consider to be an unimportant expense may save your family a huge amount of money, time and heartache later down the line.”

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