Care for the elderly and incapacitated has been in the spotlight recently, with the announcement of a rise in National Insurance to help fund health and social care. The sector, which was already under huge strain before the pandemic, is facing a crisis of staff shortages and underfunding.
The decision of how loved ones should be best looked after also puts a huge strain on families. If the individual concerned has diminished mental capacity, then it is up to the next of kin, or other nominee, to act on their behalf. They will have the responsibility of deciding how to act in the vulnerable person’s best interests for the future.
To give relatives, friends, or advocates the legal power to make decisions on behalf of the person concerned, they need to apply for a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This gives the attorney wide-ranging powers over the person’s life, such as investments, daily care arrangements, and when and if they should move into a nursing home.
Inside Conveyancing explains that this very important legal document is currently undergoing a ‘modernising process’. Concerns have been raised that this could weaken the safeguarding powers of an LPA, by not accommodating those with no online access in the changes, and not demonstrating a secure method of providing online signatures.
Stephanie Boyce, commenting on behalf of the Law Society, said: “Improving safeguards at the creation of the LPA should result in fewer attorneys making poor decisions and reduce the risk of the need to investigate concerns and removal by the court.”
She added: “However, the consultation fails to address how the proposals will work for those who cannot access a digital service; nor does it address the need to ensure that the role of the certificate provider works within a digital process as was intended when the Mental Capacity Act 2005 was passed.”
The law concerning LPAs is so important, because a vulnerable person could be fraudulently deprived of their assets, put into a care home against their will, or suffer from other inappropriate decision making which impacts on their wellbeing, and may even hasten the end of their life.
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