Leading wills lawyer criticises former senior judge over Power of Attorney comments

Retired judge Denzil Lush advocates deputyships, saying Power of Attorneys can have a “devastating” effect on family relationships

 But Aaron & Partners’ Wills, Trust and Tax specialist Clive Pointon says appointing deputies would cause chaos in the courts

 A leading wills, trust and tax lawyer at Aaron & Partners LLP has hit back at a former senior judge after he claimed that people should be more aware of the risks associated with appointing power of attorneys.

Denzil Lush, the former senior judge in the court of protection, said this week that a power of attorney can have a “devastating” effect on a family and he vowed never to sign one himself.

In the foreword to his new book, Mr Lush said the “lack of transparency causes suspicions and concerns which tend to rise in a crescendo and eventually explode.”

And he said the legal alternative – the appointment of deputies by the Court of Protection – offers more protection because the deputy’s financial affairs are scrutinised by the court.

But Clive Pointon, a partner in the Wills, Trust and Tax team at Chester-based Aaron & Partners LLP, said forcing the courts to appoint more deputies would cause the court system to ‘implode.’

“If I am healthy and well, I can nominate someone to become my power of attorney if I ever become unable to make decisions about financial matters,” Clive said. “It would be someone that I trust and in most cases it’s a family member.

“Denzil Lush is very well respected but what he is saying is that there are no checks on a power of attorney – and that’s why he’s advocating deputyships instead.

“I just don’t agree. The problem is that appointing a deputy will take six months and could cost around 4,000 pounds. And although there are more checks, it doesn’t completely remove the risks.

“A deputy for someone could still steal 10,000 pounds from their estate and say it was for home improvements for that person – but then use it for improvements to their own home. There are checks that would catch them eventually but it doesn’t stop them doing it.

“With power of attorney, you have someone in place that you have appointed yourself and that you trust and the fact is that in the huge majority of cases, that person is completely trustworthy and there is no problem.

“Denzil Lush is looking at it from the point of view of someone who has spent a lifetime dealing with cases of when it doesn’t go right, rather than looking at the thousands and thousands of cases when it works perfectly well.”

Mr Lush said there is far more scrutiny on deputies from the outset as they have to provide a full list of assets, and annual accounts.

Deputies also have to provide a security bond, which can be easily claimed if there is a problem with money being spent inappropriately.

But Clive added: “It doesn’t take away the risk, it costs a fortune and takes a long, long time.

“The courts are already behind in dealing with cases like this so it’s just not practical to expect them to be able to cope with more cases. The whole system would implode.

“We look after many high-value clients and I would always advise them that power of attorney is the best way to go.”

For more information on the services provided by Aaron & Partners, visit www.aaronandpartners.com.

 

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