“The OPG has a big responsibility for managing and administering applications for Enduring Power of Attorney and Lasting Power of Attorney. These are becoming increasingly critical tools for managing financial affairs into later life, allowing individuals to grant control of certain affairs to a trusted family member or friend if they become mentally incapacitated, typically through age-related mental illness. Their popularity has skyrocketed, more than trebling over five years from 2010, as more and more people look for the security of having a trusted decision maker in place if they ever need it.
“However, they do come with risk and can be subject to abuse. There have been cases where vulnerable individuals have been targeted by scammers seeking to fraudulently take control of their assets. By falsely obtaining power of attorney, unscrupulous individuals have attempted to manufacture the appearance of genuinely looking out for the best interests of an elderly or vulnerable individual, when in fact they have other motives.
“These cases are few and far between, but can cause huge distress and loss. The OPG is trying to signal its plans for providing appropriate safeguards against abuse. In particular, they are seeking to educate police and adult social case services in order to alert them in the event that they spot signs of abuse.
“For anyone considering appointing a Power of Attorney, the important thing to remember is that this is a decision to be taken with great care and as a precautionary measure. By taking advance steps ahead of any possible mental incapacity, individuals can have reassurance that a trusted Attorney is in place and negates the risk they could be targeted by someone they don’t know seeking to take advantage of them.”