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Are the elderly confused and at risk?

Published on 23 May 2016 | Modified on 14 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett

A survey by Age UK found that scamming is rife amongst the elderly. 29 per cent of respondents thought they had been conned and 17 per cent actually had been victims of a scam.

According to the Home Office ‘dementia fraud’ is on the increase and the police are worried that sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease and other mental illnesses are losing money at the hands of organised crime groups who target the vulnerable.

According to the Police Commissioner, criminal gangs compile lists of the vulnerable. “When someone responds to an initial contact, they will put that victim’s name on a list and sell it to another organised crime group…..Once they have a list of suckers they keep hitting them because they know they are vulnerable.”

If an elderly relative does start to suffer from lack of memory and confusion, it is important to talk to them about making a lasting power of attorney as soon as possible.

A lasting power of attorney is the legal appointment of someone who they trust to make decisions on their behalf if, at some point in the future, they are either unable to do so or simply need help in the organisation of their affairs.

The document will give power to the attorney to make decisions on their behalf relating to property and financial affairs, and will help prevent fraudsters taking advantage through putting pressure on people who may be forgetful, easily confused and vulnerable.

There are a number of safeguards built into the power of attorney document itself:

  • the document must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian;
  • a certificate confirming that they understand the nature and consequence of a lasting power of attorney is required;
  • the court keeps a register of lasting powers of attorney and can be asked to look into any suspicious activities;
  • the Court of Protection has the power to remove an attorney;
  • it is possible to elect for certain people to be notified of any application to register the document. This will give them an opportunity to object if they have concerns; and
  • the attorney must act within the guidelines of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

If someone you know is suffering from dementia and may be vulnerable, to find out how a lasting power of attorney can protect their interests please contact Charles Smalley from our Wills and Probate Team.

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