Last week retired senior Court of Protection Judge, Denzil Lush told Radio 4’s Today Programme that people should be more aware of the risks of Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPAs), claiming he does not trust them and would never sign one himself.
A LPA is a legal document that allows someone to make your financial decisions when you can no longer do so.
Teressa McDonald, director of legal services at our parent company The Honey Group, responds to the former judge’s claims in this blog ...
In his recent Radio 4 interview, Judge Lush claimed that he nailed his flag to the mast back in 1998 when, he quoted, 1 in 8 Powers of Attorney were abused. This was 9 years before the current system of LPAs were introduced in (2007) and is exactly why the system was changed.
He claims that he would never use one and would always choose the alternative being a deputyship order from the Court of Protection, for whom he used to work. This route, though there to protect people according to the letter of the law, does not ensure your wishes are honoured and is very, very costly.
In his former role, especially during the time he served, Judge Lush would have witnessed hundreds of families being devastated by the abuse of people with a power of attorney over their loved ones. He would have been directly involved in helping them, truly valuable work as I’m sure his recollections in his new book demonstrate. But times have moved on. Laws have changed. The associated legal documentation has changed and hundreds of thousands of families have benefitted from LPAs because, unlike the cases Judge Lush witnessed, they chose the right attorney and recorded their wishes in a fit for purpose legal document.
To summarise, when it goes wrong now it isn't the LPA product that’s responsible. It’s the poor choice of attorney. This is why it is so important to have a professional help you to explain the nature of the document and its importance and to ensure there is no hint of undue influence.
The deputyship order is, of course, an option. LPAs are by far the better option though if you want decisions to be made about your health care and your finances by the people you choose, guided by the principles you stated in a legally binding document.
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