Investigations into the actions of attorneys and deputies appointed under the lasting power of attorney (LPA) procedure soared by more than 40% in the past year, figures have revealed, prompting a plea from a solicitors’ organisation to include a lawyer in the process.

According to figures from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) 1,729 investigations into the actions of attorneys and deputies were carried out in the 2017/2018 financial year – up from 1,199 the previous year.

The figures were published after a freedom of information request by pensions and investment firm Royal London. The firm has now called for more education on what people can and cannot do under a power of attorney.

Ruth Pyatt

Ruth Pyatt

Ruth Pyatt, director at Solicitors for the Elderly.

Ruth Pyatt, director of Solicitors for the Elderly (SfE), told the Gazette that the organisation had noted a rise in ‘DIY and online submissions’ for LPAs, potentially leaving people at risk of attorneys making mistakes or, ‘in the worst cases, abuse’.

LPA agreements allow ‘attorneys’ – often an individual known to the party - to manage their personal and financial affairs should they lose the mental capacity to do it themselves. If an LPA is not agreed by the time a person loses mental capacity, deputies are appointed by the Court of Protection.

The OPG is an arm of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) responsible for administering LPAs.

Pyatt said: ‘Creating an LPA without expert advice could result in thousands of pounds of costs later down the line to rectify mistakes, and leave people susceptible to financial abuse. Involving a solicitor in the process of creating and registering an LPA ensures that the donor’s best interests have been accounted for. It also ensures that a donor has considered all options and if necessary put in protection clauses in the LPA.’

Helen Morrissey, personal finance specialist at Royal London, said: ‘The sheer number of investigations into the actions of attorneys is concerning and action needs to be taken to curb poor practice.’