By Legal Futures’ Associate Certainty National Will Register 
Join us for our next Certainty Expert Webinar  on Thursday 7th May at 12.00pm when Julia Szczepanski, Client Projects Director at Certainty the National Will Register will be hosting our webinar with Edward Cumming QC, Barrister at XXIV Old Buildings and Paul Hewitt, Partner at Withers LLP who will be presenting on Deputy and Attorney abuse.
Throughout its existence, Certainty the National Will Register has been approached by professional service providers, and the public alike, regarding concerns about the potential abuse of the property and assets of an individual. This being either somebody who has been appointed an attorney or as a deputy by the Court of Protection, to oversee their property and assets or health and welfare matters. We have received enquiries from the police, regarding whether we have received multiple Will search enquiries from particular individuals, which may have aroused our suspicion of potential financial abuse of an individual’s assets.
We receive enquiries as to whether past Wills and codicils of a living Testator are registered on The National Will Register. This is useful to ascertain in Statutory Will applications, or where there is a suspected attorney or deputy abuse of assets. The information gleaned from the audit trail of these Will registrations, forms a useful part of the forensic due diligence when trying to ascertain the true intentions and beliefs and wishes of the Testator, and highlights any suspicious interference of those intentions.
In this webinar, we are very pleased to look further into the topic of attorney or deputy abuse of assets or welfare, and how this area is being dealt with by solicitors, the OPG and the Court of Protection.
The topic of attorney and deputy abuse will continue to attract media and public attention not least because of the increasing rise in the number of LPA, EPAs and deputyships in existence – there are over 3.9 million currently registered with the OPG. These numbers will only increase due to the continued awareness of the benefits of an LPA, especially as we become an increasingly ageing population, and dementia figures are set to rise.
As such we have undertaken research into the topic of the importance of the Will. As a document that clearly expresses the wishes and intent of the Testator when they had capacity, we are interested in ensuring that access to the Will will only seek to assist in acting in the ‘best interests’ of the donor or client, and not as a further means of perpetrating an abuse of the attorney or deputy power.
We will be covering issues such as:
- How to spot deputy/attorney abuse?
- Who is best placed to ascertain deputy/attorney abuse, and how to report your suspicions?
- How should various stakeholders and advisers seek to safeguard against deputy abuse eg. inappropriate gifting
- Who is best placed to make referrals of abuse to the OPG
- What are the most common and not so common, signs of deputy or attorney abuse of power?
- What role can the Will, and codicils, (past and present) contribute to the forensic audit trail in determining the intentions of the incapacitated individual?
- How is the OPG safeguarding against abuse – there are 3.9 million LPA/EPAs and deputyships registered – does this mean a potential increase in abuse cases?
- Is it too easy to apply online for a deputyship or LPA?
- Who is overseeing abuse cases at the OPG?
- How can you best go about establishing and proving abuse?