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LPAs can help prevent family fraud

It’s a sad fact that some people feel the need to take advantage of elderly or vulnerable members of their families by using their assets inappropriately – but it happens, and it appears to be on the increase.

Last updated on June 20th, 2018 at 11:17 am

family fraudIn its ‘fraud barometer’ report, leading professional services provider, KPMG, has identified that fraud within families grew by 384% in the period of 1.1.15 – 30.6.15 (over the same period in the previous year).  Shockingly, the report shows that £1.7 million was stolen from the elderly by younger relatives in that period.

How is family fraud happening?

How is it happening?  Well it’s possible that people are not securing their assets properly by putting a professionally written will in place (in fact recent research shows that 59% of adults in the UK have not made a will), or, where they have done so, their relatives just can’t wait for their inheritance and simply appropriate funds when they want it.  A further recent report also showed that there is some frustration amongst children who have reached their own middle age.  As people are living longer, and property prices are increasing, they are having to wait longer than they would like for their inheritance – and sometimes not getting any at all as their parents feel they have become wealthy enough and don’t need it.  KMPG reported that one man stole his mother’s savings – £600,000 – when he realised that he wasn’t the main beneficiary in her will – and, it says, the level of asset theft reported amongst families is probably only “the tip of the iceberg” as families might want to “keep it in the family” and not report the fraud.

LPAs offer protection against fraud

It’s likely that the level of misappropriation of funds wouldn’t be so high if more people took advantage of the protection that professionally drawn up lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) can offer.

Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous individuals who try to railroad vulnerable people into setting up LPAs without taking proper advice, or without the donor (the person giving the power of attorney) have the capacity to understand fully what they are doing.  This way they are able to fraudulently take over a person’s affairs when it may not actually be necessary, thus taking control of many aspects of their life, including finances and personal matters.  This may account, in some way, for the fact that, despite an increase in the number of LPAs set up in the year ending April 2015, LPA fraud also increased.   It’s important, therefore, to make sure that an LPA is properly drafted by experts, like Graysons’ advisers, who know exactly how they work and can give you the best possible advice to ensure that they are effective for you.

When to set up an LPA

There are two types of power or attorney – a property and affairs LPA and a health and welfare LPA.

LPAs tend to be set up later in life, perhaps when there is an early diagnosis of dementia or some other illness – or the person is generally vulnerable, but it’s a misconception that you have to wait until you are old to set up an LPA.  You can only set up an LPA when you have mental capacity and creating an LPA earlier in life makes sure that you are in more control of your circumstances.  You can set up an LPA whenever you like but they don’t come into force until they are registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, and in the case of the health and welfare LPA, when you have lost mental capacity.

Our experts have years’ of experience in making sure that people get the best possible help when creating LPAs and give you advice on what you need to consider and how best to choose your attorneys.  You can contact us to arrange a confidential discussion and we are happy to meet you on your own, or with a friend or relative if you would like their support.

Find out more about services that can help elderly people on our website.

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