Warning over DIY lasting powers of attorney (LPAs)

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Gaby Hardwicke is backing a campaign to highlight the risks of creating ‘DIY’ lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) without specialist legal advice.

An LPA is a powerful legal document that enables a person to appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf about care and finances, should they lose mental capacity through an accident or illness such as dementia.

In 2014, the government’s Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) launched an online LPA creation tool, which it claims negates the need for specialist legal advice. Since its launch the number of LPA registrations has soared, but using the tool carries inherent risks.

A new report, published by a coalition of organisations led by Solicitors for The Elderly (SFE), warns that anyone who creates an LPA without taking specialist legal advice is at much greater risk of being left with an ineffective legal document, incurring additional application fees and even becoming a victim of fraud or coercion.

A study for the report asked members of the public to use the OPG’s online tool to create an LPA. The study found:

  • Some forms did not accurately express the way in which participants would want their affairs and welfare to be handled.
  • Documents made using the tool were more likely to contain elementary mistakes, which rendered them ineffective and necessitated extra application fees.
  • Following a consultation with a solicitor, most participants made significant changes to the permissions of their documents concerning how and by whom their affairs would be managed.

June McSparron, a 75-year-old participant in the study, said: “You’re exposing yourself to a lot of risk by filling this form in on your own. There are so many bits that you can get wrong, and you can easily be pressured into making choices that you’re not entirely comfortable with.”

Specialist legal advice on LPAs in East Sussex

Gaby Hardwicke’s specialist Elderly Affairs Management team provides expert advice on lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) and a host of related legal matters.

For expert advice please contact one of our specialist partners:

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