Inquiries into power of attorney claims surge as families left in limbo

Families are at risk of being caught up in a power of attorney complaints investigation spike that could cause harmful delays to their financial plans, it has emerged.

The Office of the Public Guardian can examine possible abuses of power relating to lasting power of attorneys (LPAs), but not all the grievances it receives are not accepted.

The government department for England and Wales carried out 1,886 investigations last year, an increase of 50 per cent from the previous year. However, 3,359 complaints were not accepted for investigation and of the ones that were, only a quarter went to court.

Evete Hall, 49, applied for LPA for her father, Peter, 85, over the summer, after he suffered a stroke, started showing symptoms of dementia and went into care.

The Office of the Public Guardian aims to complete its investigations within 70 days, but Miss Hall said she was still waiting for a conclusion and did not know for certain who had made the complaint.

She said she suspected the complaint was made by her father’s wife, to whom she is not related and who she says is younger than all four of her father’s daughters.

She added that she could not gain access to her father’s pension income to pay for his care.

“Debts are racking up and money is going out,” she said. “Even if we get the power of attorney, because of this delay I don’t know how it is all going to pan out.”

Experts said it was crucial families applied for LPAs before their loved ones began to lose mental or physical capacity, to confirm their wishes if any complaint or investigation arose.