It is always advised, as you get older or your health begins to deteriorate, that you make a will stating exactly how you would want your estate administered following your death. However, oftentimes life is out of our control, and we may also need to name someone to make major, financial, or other decisions for us if we are incapable of making such decisions for ourselves. Sometimes, that decision may need to be made by the courts, and the court can appoint someone to act on your behalf. Either the court or an individual themselves if they have the mental capacity to do so, can appoint a power of attorney to make such decisions on your behalf. Such powers can be general or specific.
Probate disputes and other issues can still arise in these situations, so it is important to know exactly what you can do should a disagreement arise between executors/beneficiaries and donees of powers of attorney.
Here at Van Eaton Solicitors in Streatham Hill, we can assist in any probate and will disputes that may arise. Disputes involving trusts and estates, property and financial affairs are quite common and are termed as contentious probate cases. Our qualified and experienced legal team can analyse your case and gather the necessary evidence needed to pursue a successful claim if your arguments have merit. Alternatively, they can dissuade you from pursuing a claim that lacks merit or even guide you towards a mediated settlement. Attorney fraud can still occur, even if the individual was appointed by the individual in question. So why is appointing a lasting power of attorney so important?
The Difference Between a General and Lasting Power of Attorney
When a general power of attorney is appointed by a court, it is usually when an individual has lost mental capacity and cannot handle their affairs themselves. This process can be lengthy, and the courts can appoint anyone they deem appropriate.
A lasting power of attorney is chosen by the individual themselves rather than a court, should their mental health or any brain or physical injuries prevent them from managing their affairs themselves. They will act as a legal representative and make any major decisions should the person that appointed them lose the ability to do so. It can be stated that the lasting power of attorney can only act on certain grounds, for example, if the person that appointed them experiences a significant decline of their mental state.
Lasting power of attorney’s can make changes to where a person lives, how their money and estate is managed, and any healthcare they receive.
Setting up and Making Changes
If you wish to set up a lasting power of attorney, you must fill out the relevant forms provided by the Office of the Public Guardian. You can fill out these forms with the help of a solicitor, as taking professional legal advice can help you with any disputes that may arise in the future. Your lasting power of attorney should be signed by a certified provider, who confirms that you were of sound mind and not influenced. They can be someone you know, or a professional person such as a doctor.
When appointing a lasting power of attorney, they must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, and there is a fee of £82 to register. This application must be made when the individual is of sound mind, as it could lead to probate disputes and other issues further down the line. If you have reason to believe that someone’s lasting power of attorney should not be making decisions on their behalf, or you believe that fraudulent behaviour has occurred, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Can Fraud Occur?
As previously mentioned, attorney fraud is a very real threat in some cases. As we get older, we become more vulnerable to other people’s malicious acts. Individuals are often influenced by younger relatives, who can force them to give full control of their bank account and affairs should their mental capacity decline. This can happen without anyone else being aware, but there are ways in which you can suspect fraudulent behaviour. You can read more about executor fraud in our previous article.
If you have any suspicions that fraud has occurred, you should never ignore them and act immediately. Our qualified solicitors here at Van Eaton have successful experience in dealing with fraudulent executor and power of attorney cases, granting our clients the compensation they were entitled to. To find out more, or to arrange a free consultation, please give us a call on 0208 769 6739. Alternatively, you can fill out our online form.