We are pleased to share that the Ministry of Justice has launched a review of the outdated power of attorney system that protects the elderly and vulnerable people.
This will give the Government greater powers to seek out abusive carers of those who cannot manage their own financial or health affairs – usually due to disability or old age.
Millions of elderly and vulnerable people will benefit from stricter rules on who can take control of their money under “major reforms”, it said.
Proposed rule changes would hand greater powers to the Office for Public Guardian, which polices power of attorney, to come down harder on abusers by allowing it to carry out more substantial checks into suspected law breakers.
Investigations into carers misappropriating funds, including cases of people siphoning of cash set aside for care fees into their own accounts, have risen steadily in recent years as more people have signed up to the safeguards.
The review will also look at moving more applications online, introducing remote witnessing of the legal documents which normally must be signed in person, as well as ways of reducing the risk of applications being rejected due to avoidable mistakes on application forms.
The Government will also consult on the introduction of an urgent service, to fast-track the most vulnerable to the front of the queue.
It is hoped the reforms will help to overcome delays which can leave vulnerable people exposed to criminal gangs or unable to cover their costs.
Once someone loses the capacity to manage their own money – if they develop dementia or serious mental health problems or fall into a coma, for example – it is too late to put the safeguards in place. In these circumstances families must resort to obtaining superseding legal permissions via the Court of Protection, which is far more onerous, time consuming and costly.
Paper application forms will still be available for those who do not or cannot use computers.